â€¦Onovo fights back
By KINGSLEY OMONOBI
The federal government Thursday threw caution to the winds and lambasted the Nigeria Police high command over what it termed â€˜increase in current rate of crime across the nation, rising cases of extra-judicial killings, human rights violations, robberies, high profile assassinations and deliberate failure to comply with government directivesâ€™.
In a no holds barred briefing in his office that had in attendance, the Inspector General of police, Ogbonna Onovo and the Police management team, Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame blasted that the failure on the part of the Police High Command, â€˜are testimony to the sheer incapacity or willful defiance of the Police High Command to implement recommendations and assignments at hand adding that â€œThe current security situation in the country to say the least, is condemnable and unacceptable to the government and good citizens of our great nationâ€.
Dr. Lame gave the condemnation just as the Inspector General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo disclosed that unless the socio-economic, political, religious factors ravaging the country that has led to increased unemployment of the youths between 18 years and 25 years, corruption and the unguarded display of wealth, the very destructive religious and sectarian crises are redressed, fighting and containing crime in the country, would be impossible.
According to the Police Affairs minister, â€œThe time has come for the Nigeria Police High Command to review its strategies in order to perform its duty. No responsible government would fold its arm and watch helplessly as its citizens are being maimed or cut down in their prime when there is a police force in place.
The Nigeria Police should improve on its investigating skills; government expects result on the high profile crimes committed in the land as a demonstration of a functional police force. The police high command should therefore rise up to find appropriate solution it deems fitâ€.
â€œAnother area of concern is the failure by the Nigeria police to implement government directives on the withdrawal of police orderlies. Early in 2009, the government directed the immediate withdrawal of police orderlies from all citizens who are not entitled irrespective of their status in the community.
Implementation of this directive had been hindered with the connivance of the high command of the Nigeria Police force. Government has therefore, given a maximum of two weeks ultimatum within which the directive should be complied with. Failure from any quarter would be met with appropriate disciplinary actionâ€.
â€œThe Nigeria police force should demonstrate its support and adoption of the Reform Agenda. The level of appreciation of the reform programme within the force also bears testimony either to the fact that the police high command does not clearly understand the essence of the reform programme or lacks the capacity to implement same.
The principle of the reform should be driven to the police post level. Assessment of the needs of the Nigeria Police should follow a bottom up approach starting with the DPO, Area Commander, state Command, Zonal Command and the force headquarter. In this way, we will be putting in place a firm programme to which funds for the reform would be applied in an orderly and organized approachâ€, the minister said.
Continuing Lame said, â€œMy earlier directive for appropriate devolution of authority up to the divisional police officers level should be seriously addressed in order to ensure their capability to operate with certain degree of autonomy.
Devolution of authority requires that the divisional police officers should be given autonomy in terms of operational matters, budgetary preparation and implementation within set guidelines and this should be put in place for control and evaluation of the authorities devolved. Above all, proposed management of the budget to reflect the procurement laws must also be adhered toâ€.
In his defence of the Police, the IGP said, â€œThis police administration is only 7 months old. Everybody is aware that we are still looking for funds to implement areas of barracks rehabilitation, equipment of our officers and men.
You recall that as soon as we came on board, the book Haram religious crises broke out. Since then religious and sectarian crises have broken out in several parts of the country, Kidnapping was high in the east but we checkmated it especially in the east. Elections have been holding in several areas and we have been doing our bestâ€.
â€œThere is no country that is crime free in the world but we (Nigerian Police) are operating under unbearable conditions. We saw the kind of arms and ammunition that came out of the Niger Delta. We want to be properly armed, and kitted but the equipment are not there. The Nigeria police is trying its best given the limited resources at our disposal. We are solidly on ground. It is not the police force that causes crime. They are there to prevent crimeâ€.
â€œI donâ€™t believe this is the time for trading blames rather all hands must be on deck. I will appeal for understanding from all our citizens. The economic, socio, political and religious factors like unemployment, corruption, religious crises and brazen display of wealth in the midst of poverty and unemployment, must be addressed. Youths between 18 and 25 years are the ones causing problems. If there is employment, no proliferation of arms and ammunition from the borders which the police donâ€™t secure, crime rate would be reducedâ€.
Mr. Onovo further denied reports of killing of innocent passengers by armed robbers along the Benin â€“ Ore road saying it was a truck heavily loaded with goods that lost its breaks and ran into the passengers while robbers were robbing them of their possessions.