PENULTIMATE Monday’s order by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, for the withdrawal of police orderlies from private individuals is largely welcome. However, implementation could be another thing as this is not the first time that such an order would be issued by the current IGP.
In June 2017, while meeting with civil society groups under the aegis of The Situation Room, Mr. Idris issued a similar directive that mobile policemen assigned to protect private individuals be withdrawn.
“We are stopping the deployment of mobile police from protecting VIPs in the country because that is not where they should serve,” IGP Idris had said on that occasion. His predecessor, Mr. Solomon Arase, had in compliance with a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari similarly constituted joint teams with the Police Service Commission, PSC, to implement a similar presidential directive immediately Buhari assumed office in 2015. That presidential directive also failed to get traction.
Four of his predecessors – Ogbonnaya Onovo, Hafiz Ringim, Mohammed Abubakar and Solomon Arase – issued similar orders within the past nine years yet nothing changed. It is now believed that 150, 000 policemen, more than one-third of the country’s 400,000 policemen, are deployed towards VIP protection.
It is regrettable that policemen trained at the public expense for the common good have over time been deployed for the protection and protocol services of a few wealthy Nigerians.
The Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Chief Mike Okiro, recently claimed that the deployment of these officers to private individuals is “due to lack of fund”. This will appear to support the allegations in some quarters that the Police hierarchy profits from these postings.
Our policemen should not be rented out to the highest bidders. Private individuals who need security should hire licenced security professionals. That is how it is done in civilised countries. Nigeria is seriously under-policed and cannot afford to outsource officers who should be guarding the citizenry to the highest bidders.
These policemen deployed to guard private individuals are turned into guides, messengers and protocol officers of the VIPs, thus denigrating the uniforms they wear. In several cases policemen that should ordinarily be involved in strict police duties are seen carrying handbags of VIPs and their spouses.
The deployment of policemen to private individuals distorts our security architecture as it opens gaps in the security of the country. With the unchecked menace of armed Fulani militias, cattle rustlers, violent criminals and Islamic terrorists in our urban and local communities we need all our police officers on the beat to arrest the situation.
We are waiting for IGP Idris to implement his own directive.