By ALBERT AKPOR
RECENTLY, the Inspector-General of Police IGP Hafiz Ringim through his minister, Humphrey Abbah went on air placing outright ban on the continued use of highly filmed vehicles in the country and directed commissioners of police across nation to promptly commence the implementation of the order. The major reason adduced for such outright ban was that, some criminally minded individuals were using the tinted glass vehicles to perpetrate crimes. The order however, exempted some highly placed personalities in the country such the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House and their deputies, Police officers from the rank of commissioners upwards and some unnamed political office holders. Whereas, some states has since commenced implementation of the order, others like Lagos and the neighbouring states were yet to commence the enforcement. While some security experts see the ban as a welcome development, others say it has nothing to do with fighting crimes; stressing that the Police IG has only succeeded in raising meal ticket for his men on the roads.
Frank Odita, is retired police commissioner and a security consultant, to him the ban on tinted glass vehicles did not just start today; it has been there. He said the pronouncement banning further use of such vehicles was in order. According to him, though the order has been there since the time of General Sani Abacha, the new minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Humphrey Abbah may have realized that people were beginning to abuse it. He said, “The law banning the use of tinted glass vehicles has been there. During the administration of Sani Abacha, he promulgated a Decree to that effect, but the decree exempted some senior police officers. The new Police affairs may have felt that the use of tinted glass was being abused and of course, used for sinister motives. It will help expose those using it for sinister motives; the ban will help checkmate criminal activities. For me, it is ok. I do not have anything to hide and therefore, have no need to tint my glass. As far as I am concerned, it is either for or against; those whose vehicles are totally blackout may have something to hide. A criminal could hide inside a tinted glass vehicle to perpetrate crime and escapes without him being identified. With a tinted glass vehicle, somebody can come out shoot at you and disappears into it and you do not have any means of identifying him. To me, anything that will checkmate criminal act, abuse of power as a security consultant is a welcome development.”
But if Mr. Frank Odita, a highly respected retired police commissioner, a media and security consultant sees the ban as being in order, another security expert of no mean status, and a social commentator; Dr. Ona Ekhomu sees no direct correlation between crime fighting and tinted glass. According to him, ‘There is no relationship between tinted glass vehicles and fighting crimes anywhere in the world. And I keep telling people that, the problem with us in this country is that we do things like blind people. All over the world, tinted glass vehicles are used for the protection of VIPs other than those using them on health ground. Have people paused to ask why we have factory fitted tinted glass vehicles in the first instance.? People should ask question whenever they are in doubt in a particular subject. In this country and of course in other countries of the world, Police officers are at liberty to flag down any tinted glass vehicle to say, please can we know the occupants. It is because we are not proactive in crime fighting that is why somebody is saying banning tinted glass vehicles will checkmate criminality. That is not true. High profile crimes are being perpetrated everywhere in the country, people are being kidnapped here and there; are we saying that perpetrators used tinted glass vehicles.? Some people just sit down somewhere and make pronouncements without recourse to consulting those knowledgeable in that area. It is a very, very unfortunate situation that we have found ourselves in this country; honestly. As far as I know, and with my knowledge of security, banning the use of tinted glass vehicles cannot and will never reduce or checkmate crimes and criminality in the country. They do not have any relationship.”
Another respondent, an auto-dealer, rights activist and publisher of The Accelerator, an on-line news, Mr. Chigozie Ubani do not just see the ban as arbitrary but another way of raising meal tickets for policemen on the roads. The general secretary of the association of Automobile Dealers and Marketers, Lagos argued that the ban on the use of highly filmed vehicles was introduced during the General Mohammadu Buhari’s administration in 1984 when most of the cars used then came in from the UK. According to the immediate junior brother to the late human rights activist, comrade Chima Ubani, when vehicles with factory tinted glasses started coming in from the US, the IG then asked Nigerians who wished to use such cars to apply. Those who applied according to him, payed for it. He maintained that what the present police chief has succeeded to do is the failure to meet with stakeholders, including those who authentically applied for it as well as automobile dealers across the country whose means of existence was being threatened. To the Journalist-cum business mogul, the mere fact that some people used tinted glass vehicles to carry out nefarious act was not enough to call for an outright ban. He said, “ This ban has been there since the Buhari /Idiagbon administration in 1984, so it is not new. I quite sympathise with the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) because if you ask me, if there is any organization that needs assistance, it is the Police. However, placing an outright ban on the use of tinted glass vehicles without due consultation with stakeholders, especially automobile dealers and those who authentically applied for such purpose is purely arbitrary. Making pronouncement because one or two vehicles were used for criminality does not call for the ban. They may try to enforce it but what the IG has done is raise meal ticket for his boys. Have we grounded all the airlines because of a plane crash? All the Nigeria Police need to is step up its crime fighting strategy. You do not make pronouncement because of a few challenges; you have to reach out to stake holders. A lot of things has to be done before certain laws should be enacted if we agree that we are in democracy.”