The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) plans to subject aspiring recruits to a polygraph (lie detector) test in addition to the general background checks, biometrics, medical, physical, aptitude, oral and psychological tests.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mr Ibrahim Idris who gave this directive, was quoted as saying: “No candidate will be admitted for training at the Police Academy and colleges without undergoing these prescribed tests.
“The Polygraph test is aimed at ensuring that candidates are not of questionable character and their behaviours conform to standard rules of behaviour expected of (officers) to be recruited into the Force. The Police Academy and other training Colleges across the country will be equipped to carry out the necessary tests. The Nigeria Police Force is determined to ensure that the current recruitment exercise conforms to acceptable standards necessary for an ideal Police officer the Nigerian people deserve.”
The Police Service Commission (PSC) recently shortlisted 110,469 for the aptitude tests. This consisted of 22,454 Cadet Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASP’s); 24, 456 Cadet Inspectors and 63,559 Police Constables. They were among the 338,250 candidates who were initially screened.
While the IGP’s directive sounds logical given the unenviable image of the police, it does not appear convincing enough if his intention is to re-brand the police force as one having officers of integrity. Questions arise as to whether the compulsory lie detector test should not start with the currently serving officers of the Force.
The reason for this is not far-fetched. The Nigeria Police Force has over the years been bedeviled with a bad image due to perceived widespread corruption. This has not helped in building the much needed trust which should bind relations between the Force and the citizenry.
Also, the perception that there are too many bad eggs in the Police who collude with criminals and thwart the objectives of law enforcement and justice for those whose rights and legitimate interests are injured or threatened by criminals, has not helped in fostering the needed friendship or partnership between the Police and the public.
Unfortunately, the Police have not done enough to redeem their image, not even when a former IGP came up with the slogan: “To Serve and Protect With Integrity”.
So, while the IGP’s lie detector test initiative is welcome, efforts must be focused not only on bringing in “clean” new officers but also cleansing the existing corps of officers and men of questionable character. Otherwise, the newcomers will simply settle into the existing rot.