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Why police misuse arms, kill on duty —IGP

Stops 12-hour, 2-shift work structure in police
Directs reversal to traditional 8-hour, 3-shift standard
Poor supervision, wickedness responsible for killings — Tsav
Stress is a factor — Doctors •Nigeria at war —Shehu Sani
Senate summons IGP Adamu to appear at plenary next week

By Sola Ogundipe, Charles Kumolu, Henry Umoru, Joseph Erunke & Gabriel Olawale

ABUJA—Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has attributed the increasing cases of misuse of firearms and extra-judicial killings by police personnel to work-related stresses and emotional conditions.

To tackle the issue, the police boss ordered immediate end to the current 12-hour, two-shift work structure in the Nigeria Police Force, and reversal to the traditional eight-hour, three-shift standard.

MAdamu, Police
Adamu Mohammed,Police

However, former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said lack of supervision and wickedness were responsible for extra-judicial killings by the police.

Meanwhile, doctors said stress could be a factor in extra-judicial killings.

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The IGP gave the order while delivering a speech at the maiden conference of Heads of Nigeria Police Medical Facilities, held at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.

Adamu spoke on a day the Senate summoned him to appear at the plenary, next week, over the rising waves of banditry and kidnapping across the country.

With the IGP’s order, no police personnel is expected to work beyond eight hours in a day anymore.

Misuse of firearms

He said: “Indeed, arguments have been raised that the resonating incidents of misuse of firearms and extra-judicial actions by police personnel often result directly from work-related stress and emotional conditions which disorient their rationality.

“In consideration of this, I have ordered that with immediate effect, the shift duty structure of the Nigeria Police which is currently a 12-hour, two-shift system be reverted to the traditional eight-hour, three-shift standard.

“This directive is specifically informed by the need to address a major, age-long occupational stress which long hours of duty engenders among personnel in the Nigeria Police Force and which occasions depression and abuse of power and other unprofessional conduct.

“For purpose of clarity, henceforth, no police personnel should be made to perform any duty exceeding eight hours within a space of 24 hours unless there is a local or national emergency.”

He tasked the Nigeria Police Medical Services to advance this intention in complementing the leadership of the Nigeria Police by “striving at all times to guarantee a healthy work-life balance and ensuring that our officers attain the highest possible level of health status that will prevent occupational health stress factors which manifest into fatigue, compromised immune system, heart diseases and high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, irritability, risk of substance abuse and emotional instability.

“All of these, if not medically managed, could engender unprofessional reactions with fatal consequences to the affected police personnel and members of the public.”

Tasking the Nigeria Police Medical Services on strategies and techniques, including cognitive therapy and emotional intelligence models that will strengthen the stress management capacity and operational resilience of personnel, IGP Adamu said: “I challenge you to engage these issues as part of your agenda for this conference.”

The police chief while assuring “that the current police management will ensure that these challenges as well as career and welfare concerns of personnel in the NPMS are addressed on a sustainable basis,” however, charged the personnel “to continuously discharge your professional duties with a high sense of commitment and responsibility to meet the ever-growing health needs of our personnel.”

Adamu said the Nigeria Police Medical Services has some of the finest and most experienced medical officers, noting that “it has expanded significantly over the years from just one healthcare facility in 1975 to 144 in 2019 across the country.”

In her address earlier, Force Medical Officer, AIG Obembe Modupe, while appreciating the contributions of her predecessors in office, towards the growth and process of the Nigeria Police Medical Services, since its inception in 1975, said “to address the current negative public perception of the police, it is essential to emphasize the need for medical, mental and psychological evaluation of candidates during recruitment, for proper selection of fit and qualified entrants into the Force.”

Lack of supervision, wickedness, are responsible –Tsav

Disagreeing that stress is responsible for misuse of firearms and extra-judicial killings, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav said: “I think what is responsible is lack of supervision. If they supervised the people very well, extra-judicial killings would not have been an issue in the country.

‘’During our time, before an officer would leave with any weapon, it would be recorded and when he comes back a superior person would check to ensure that the weapon was returned.

“When the arms are returned, if any bullet is missing, the person would explain why it is missing and if anyone was fired, the reason it was fired would be stated. And anyone, who could not explain what happened to the firearms given to him, would be punished.

“I disagree that stress is responsible. What kind of stress would make someone cock his gun and pull the trigger to shoot someone? Before shooting, a gun would be cocked after which safety catch would be applied to make the gun not to shoot.

‘’At what stage does stress make a policeman to pass through these stages before eventually pulling the trigger?’’

Stress is a factor —Doctors

Senior Lecturer and Consultant Psychiatrist with the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, Dr. Jibril Abdulmalik, said stress was an unavoidable component of daily living as human beings.

He said: “However, it is within our control to ensure that we are not subjected to overwhelming stress that may break us down. There are many simple, inexpensive strategies for managing stress levels to ensure we do not suffer harmful physical and emotional consequences from stress.

“It is therefore, not the stressful situation or nature of the stress alone that determines outcome; but how we allow it to affect us is critical – and this is entirely in our hands. We can always deflect, cope better or remove ourselves from the situation.

“The extra-judicial actions of personnel may be as a result of increased irritation and frustrations resulting from work-related stress. Indeed, studies have shown that overworked and stressed doctors are more likely to make careless mistakes in their work.

“So the decision of IGP is in order because it is important to ensure that sensitive security personnel are protected from work related stress in order to minimize accidents which may result in loss of innocent lives,” he remarked

Further, Abdulmalik said other very helpful strategies for overcoming stress include regular physical exercise (releases feel good chemicals that promote relaxation); employing humour to diffuse tense situations and to keep the big picture in view; investing and nurturing relationships – with family, friends and colleagues; taking breaks – not necessarily expensive vacations but may be a visit to the beach for a quiet stroll and meditation alone.

“Spirituality or religious activity may also provide solace and comfort for some people. Engaging in a charity cause for altruistic reasons is also helpful to provide balance…and it evokes a deep sense of satisfaction and well-being, when we do something for a good cause.”

A study on stress

According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the International Journal of Mental Health, police officers face stress, which can negatively impact their physical and mental health.

The study conducted over a five-year period revealed that police officers experience daily psychological stress that puts them at an increased risk of various long-term health effects that may include cardiovascular disease, obesity, suicide, sleeplessness and cancer.

Findings from the study among others, revealed that officers who worked night shifts had a higher risk of metabolic syndrome than those who work day shifts. Nearly half (46.9 per cent) of officers in the study worked a non-day shift compared to just nine per cent of regular workers.

Principal investigator on the study, Dr. John Violanti, who is professor of social and preventive medicine at the University of Bufallo School of Public Health and Health Professions, said there was need to change the training of officers in the police academy so they understand signs of stress and how to get them treated.

“Police recruits need to receive inoculation training against stress. If I tell you that the first time you see a dead body or an abused child that it is normal to have feelings of stress, you will be better able to deal with them; exposure to this type of training inoculates you so that when it does happen, you will be better prepared.

“At the same time, middle and upper management in police departments need to be trained on how to accept officers who ask for help and how to make sure that officers are not afraid to ask for that help,” Violanti stated.

Experts say while some stress is inevitable, when the body repeatedly encounters a set of physiological changes known as the stress response, trouble can brew. Stress may contribute to or exacerbate various health problems.

“Stress can be positive or negative, depending on the situation. Positive stressors (called eustress) is taken as positive since it stimulates people to face certain problems. It makes people respond in an efficient and effective way to situations that subject to stress. It prevents us from feeling overwhelmed by the situations that generate negative stress.

Examples of positive stressors include receiving a promotion or salary raise, starting a new job, marriage, buying a car or home and having a baby.

On the other hand, negative stress (called distress) results in the full-blown stress response. If continuous, negative stress can lead to loss of productivity, health problems, and exhaustion. Examples of negative stressors are death of a spouse, unemployment, death of a family member, injury or illness and being abused or neglected.

Senate summons IGP, Adamu

Meanwhile, worried by the level of banditry and increasing cases of kidnapping across the country, the Senate has summoned the acting Inspector- General of Police, Adamu to appear before it at plenary next week.

The Senate expects the IGP to appear and brief it on the rising wave of insecurity, banditry and kidnapping in the country, especially in the northern parts of the country.

Also condemning the gruesome killing of a 29-year-old Briton, Faye Mooney and another Nigerian and the abduction of three others on Friday, April 19, 2019, the Upper Chamber resolved to send a delegation to the British embassy to condole with the British government.

The Senate urged security agencies to use drones and interceptors to track kidnappers asking for ransoms.

Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were sequel to a motion, entitled, “Senseless killing of a Briton and the abduction of three others in a Holiday Resort in Kaduna State by Armed Bandits,” sponsored by Senator Shehu Sani, PRP, Kaduna Central.

The motion was co- sponsored by other 108 senators.

Observing a minute silence in honor of the departed souls, the Senate also urged the security authorities to intensify the search for the perpetrators and bring them to book.

The Briton, Faye Mooney, was an aid worker who was killed in Kajuru Castle, a recreational location in Kaduna State last week, just as the armed bandits killed Ms Mooney, Matthew Oguche, a Nigerian training assistant with the International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO) and kidnapped three others.

The Upper Chamber has also asked the government to set up inter-agency task force to tackle cases of banditry and kidnapping in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states.

According to the Senate, security agencies should give special security cover to foreign workers and tourists as well as immediately deploy the use of drones and interceptors in tracking kidnappers asking for ransom.

Another resolution of the Senate urged community leaders, traditional rulers and all stake holders to co-operate with security agencies.

The Senate has also urged telecommunication companies to provide security agencies with information in areas where there are kidnappings.

Eight out of the nine prayers were adopted.

Why IGP must cooperate with Senate  —Ekweremadu

However, the resolution to summon the Acting Inspector General of Police to appear before the Senate was an additional prayer by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.

Ekweremadu said:  “Since we now have a new IGP – as the other one was uninterested in talking to us, let us invite him to give a holistic view of the state of kidnapping across the country with a view to finding lasting solution.”

Ekweremadu’s additional prayer was supported by Senator Kabiru Marafa, APC, Zamfara Central and unanimously adopted by the senators.

The Senate however, rejected a prayer by Senator Fatimat Raji- Saraki, Ekiti Central who urged the executive to sign the Peace Corps Bill to engage the youth.

Presenting the motion, Senator Shehu Sani, who noted that attacks on individuals, houses and villages have become one too many and not one suspect had been prosecuted for the crime, however, expressed worry that the bandits tend to be gaining more courage to perpetuate their acts without fear of confrontation “due to their acclaimed superior fire power.”

While stating that Kajuru and Kaduna State were under siege, he said the northern part of Nigeria had become a theatre of killings and kidnappings and under siege, with the country at war.

Earlier in his contribution the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who noted that recent happenings were not the first time a non-Nigerian (especially construction/aid workers) was falling victim to the hands of kidnappers in the country, said that if nothing was done, Nigeria will continue to be profiled as a terrorist state abroad.

Ekweremadu said:  “The nation’s security has been breached. Tourist who have plans of coming to Nigeria will now think twice before coming. And this is affecting our economy. It is important to take this issue seriously in order to protect our national image. Even if it means declaring a state of emergency in affected states, so be it.”

Also in his contribution, Senator Andrew Uchendu, APC Rivers East, who condemned the act, blamed it on the idleness of Nigerian youth, saying “the truth is that these things keep happening because the youths are idle and have a lot of energy.”

In his remarks, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, hoped that there will be cooperation from the IGP as he prayed for a strong relationship between the Senate and the security agencies. According to him, the passage of the Police Reform and the Police Trust Fund Bills is proof that the Senate “is ready to work with them.”

 

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