By Kingsley OMONOBI, Abuja
There are indications that a cold war has erupted between the Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame, and the hierarchy of the Police force following what Saturday Vanguard gathered is the alleged usurpation of the duties of the Inspector General of Police by the minister .
TheÂ Minister is also alleged to have taken over the award of and implementation of police contracts including provision of operational equipment which statutorily, fall within the purview of the Police Tenders board and subsequently under the supervision of the IGP.
Consequently it was gathered that a parallel department for the processing of and payment of all Police contracts which hitherto was the responsibility of the Police headquarters, has been opened at the ministry of Police Affairs.
For instance, it was learnt that all contracts in the region of N2million which the IGP is entitled to award and which should be paid for after completion is certified by force headquarters, have been taken over by the ministry as the parallel department is now responsible for award, payment and certification of such contracts.
Already, it is a well known fact that contracts of up to N100million and above are awarded by the Executive council of the federation while the Minister can awards contracts of N50million.
It is against this backdrop that officers of the Police force are raising eyebrows over the implementation of the seven cities project, one which seeks to ensure that states with high crime rates are provided more communication, patrol, crime detection, ammunitions and better protective equipment to ensure that criminality is reduced to the barest minimum.
Sources told Saturday Vanguard that the multi_billion project involving states in the North, East, West and South is on vergeÂ of aÂ failure with over N250million of the total budget, allegedly spent on consultancy alone and another N300million said to have been spent on training of officers and men for the seven cities project.
Another issue causing disaffection between the Police MinisterÂ and the Police hierarchy is the alleged frequent and flagrant usage of Police equipment, in particular, helicopters meant for operational purposes.
A source who shed light on the helicopter issue, pointed out that several top government functionaries, have made the usage of the Police helicopters, a routine source of movement adding that it was hampering the use of the choppers for operational purposes.
As if these usurpation and interference in Police functions were not enough, the ministry of Police Affairs, on Wednesday issued a statement ordering the cancellation of an innovative crime fighting project, the Vehicle Tracking System developed by the Police to contain increasing rate of car snatching incidents in the country.
Mr. Onovo in company of the Police management team, had while launching the tracking system, explained that it was a breakthrough since previous attempts ofÂ using vendors and contractors had failed the police hence the new initiative took all the lapses of the past into consideration.
Surprisingly however a statement titled â€˜Suspension of Police Vehicle Tracking Projectâ€™, came up a few days later saying, â€œThe attention of the Honorable Minister of Police affairs has been drawn to the recent public launching of a Public Partnership Project on Vehicle Tracking with the United Bank for Africa by the Inspector_General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovoâ€.
â€œWhile the initiative is commendable, it has been noted that its implementation has implications for the general public that are required to pay (N500) for the services rendered which requires the approval of the Federal Executive Councilâ€.
â€œIn view of this and the reactions the launching has generated up to the level of the National Assembly, the Minister has directed that further action on the project be suspended to enable appropriate administrative action to be taken in line with the policy of the federal government on Public Private Partnership projectsâ€.
The implication of the action of the minister according to a cross section of policemen spoken to is that the IGP is being portrayed as someone who has lost his operational control over officers and men as the minister mostly now give directives on how the police are run.