.Police

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

The Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi, at the 38th Session of the ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team, revealed that 25,000 constabularies have been trained and deployed across the country for community policing.

He also spoke on the current status of policing and security in the country and gave insight on key updates from the Presidential Roadmap on Police Reform, innovative strides currently being executed in the Nigeria Police and the impact the implementation of police reforms would have on internal security in Nigeria. He enumerated the efforts being made toward the welfare of police officers.

Excerpts:

What are the efforts the government is making, in particular the Ministry of Police Affairs, to reform the police and to ensure that the police in this country are citizen-centred and properly motivated to maintain law and order in this country?

You will recall that the Ministry of Police Affairs was established on the 21st of August 2019 by Mr President to, among other things, give attention to re-equipping and re-tooling the police, remodel policing infrastructure via the government community policing initiative and promote commitment to duty through the improvement of welfare for our policemen and women in this country.

The Ministry of Police Affairs has Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Police Academy and the Police Trust Fund as the three agencies under its supervision and is saddled with the responsibility of supporting the vision and mission of Mr President to ensure that policing this country is citizen-centred and civil in the performance of their duties.

State of Nigerian Internal Security: It has been established that certain security threats are associated with some geopolitical corridors. The Northeast, for instance, has a history of Boko Haram campaigns against harmless citizens since 2009. These terrorists subsequently formed alliances with the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) which unleashed destructive terrorist activities on the zone. However, a fierce military might with the police support has degraded the terrorist capability and dislodged them from their hitherto a strong base in the Northeast. They are now going back into the cocoons, engaging in hit and run guerrilla tactics.

In the Northwest, the onslaught on Boko Haram and its affiliated group in the northeast, despite desperate survival attempts, now synergises with bandits operating in the northwest and the parts of North Central, particularly the middle region. This ugly trend is currently receiving commensurate attention with the deployment of operational assets to neutralize the menace. In the short term, the Nigerian for this air component has been deployed to monitor major terrain in affected areas, and conduct reconnaissance offensive on criminal enclaves within the corridor.

In the South-East, security came under severe threat following violent attacks on security formations and civilians by militant Biafrans separatist groups. Sustained security operations in this region, have in recent times localised their operations to Imo and Anambra states, while the government continues to employ strategies to engender peace and security in the entire Southeast.

Unlike the southeast, the South-South region is relatively free from violent criminalities. However, the isolated cases of kidnap for ransom and armed robbery have been dealt with by the police and other security agencies. A special task force against oil theft set up by the Inspector General of Police is operating in the zone to check illegal bunkering and other related economic sabotage. Security in the Southwest is similar to that of the south-south. incidents of oil theft in the zone have also been reduced to the barest minimum.

The task of reforming the Nigerian police began on June 21, 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Police Trust Fund bill into law. This law seeks to actualize the vision and mission of Mr President for the police to provide additional sources of funding to mobilize the police force.

This has since been made operational by the Ministry of Police Affairs and realises its laudable objectives, such as insulating police finances. The fund has successfully delivered on its 2020 and 2021 budgets, purchasing operational vehicles, arms and ammunition, bulletproof vests and helmets for police operations.

The fund also purchased medical items to meet the health needs of policemen nationwide. In addition, accommodation for the police has also received a facelift. Similarly, on September 16, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Nigerian police Bill 2020, which repealed the obsolete police laws of the Federation 2004.

This composite document has elicited an array of ongoing reforms, in the Nigerian police to ensure the sustainable reformation of the police and make it accountable and deeply rooted. The Federal government also approved the setting up of a police reform technical team in the office of the SGF to coordinate efforts geared towards achieving this lofty aim.

It is gratifying to report that a lot has been achieved in this direction. Of particular reference are the technical assessments of the three premier training colleges in Maiduguri, Kaduna, Lagos, and Enugu. Upward review of recruitment procedures and training curricula in these institutions is also under consideration. Development of promotion and leadership courses at all levels of these institutions are also being reviewed by the technical committee.

Overall, the presidential police reform team will in due course harmonize submissions so that we have a similar committee at the most senior level to involve 21st century and nimble-footed in the policing architecture in Nigeria.

The newly approved enhanced emolument for the police personnel further underscores the government’s commitment to entrenching welfare being a key component of police reforms under this administration. All the necessary computations to guide the payment of the new salary package have been completed and forwarded to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning for implementation, which is expected to commence very soon.

You’re already aware that the ministry has obtained approval from the federal executive council for the concession of the moribund National Public Security Communication System, which was installed in all states of the Federation, except Borno State by the previous administration, because of the security challenges at that time. This initiative is aimed at reviving this project, due to its critical importance in the security architecture of the country. When fully operational, happenings in all parts of the country will be monitored in real-time on the command and control centre for proactive policing and prompt response to situations.

Efforts are currently ongoing by the concessionaire, that is NPS technology to revive this project. The concessionaire has taken over the facilities and is currently pursuing the issuance of universal access service license from the National Communications Commission to commence full-scale operation.

We also have the Police Specialised Automation Project (POSA). In a bid to block financial leakages, deepen accountability and mitigate funding gaps for policing in Nigeria, the ministry recently secured the federal executive council approval for the police specialised automation project.  It is envisaged that in the medium and long term period, the project will deliver economic benefits and improved efficiencies for the police as follows:

The automated process will bring about efficiency and eliminate subjectivity, lack of transparency, resource allocation and utilization. It will increase the general working condition of the entire police force. It will improve the poor perception of the Nigerian police force while improving professionalism. To ensure a significant contribution to government funds by better revenue and operating surpluses. It will also generate complementary revenue for the pole force, to mitigate the huge impact of poor budgetary reallocations on the police.

It will position the Nigerian police force for effective resource efficiency in meeting its statutory service obligations. It will also promote transparency, probity and accountability by eliminating unethical activities of middlemen, or facilitators associated with the manual system that used to happen. For purposes of emphasis, the police specialised automation project, is primarily targeted at the organizations and individuals who are seeking these specialised services such as protection services for oil and gas and telecommunication sectors, special protection and guard services for banking and financial services, special protection and guard services for hospitality, real estate and fast-moving consumer goods sectors.

I want to appeal to individuals and organizations seeking police special protection services, to cooperate with the police for the success of the programme. we’re aware that some individuals and organizations are using the police that are not properly accounted for. But this time around with this automation project, we’ll make sure that only police services that are required are being extended to people who show cause for the need for the services of the police. So we want to sincerely appeal for the understanding of the public in the implementation of this programme so that we will do it to the best of our ability and for the good of policing and security in the country.

In a bid to reawaken citizen trust, eliminate apathy for successful implementation of community policing initiatives and improve citizens’ participation in policing and human intelligence, the ministry embarked on a resuscitation drive for the police public complaints committee.

This committee has embarked on a sensitization campaign, expected to cover the six geopolitical zones of the country. The immediate sensitization of the southwest took place in Lagos in November 202, while that of the northwest took place in Sokoto state, in February 2022. Similar campaigns for the north-central, took place in Lokoja, Kogi state in March 2022, while arrangements are in place to conclude this rally in three other geopolitical zones, in the next campaign slated for May 26, 2022, in Cross River State, in the south-south region.

The purpose of this sensitization campaign is to encourage citizens to report cases of police infractions against them for necessary action by the country. I want to appeal to Nigerians to take advantage of the existence of this committee and put up complaints that are actual and genuine concerns to them for consideration by the committee. We want to assure Nigerians that we’re doing this for transparency and we’re doing this for the good of the police themselves and for the fact that the police are now becoming as civil as possible.

Nigerians should be allowed to report to the police, what the police are doing for them,  how the police are reporting civilians, or what they are doing to their fellow civilians. We should be working hand in hand, the police are friends of the citizens, so citizens should also see themselves as friends of the police. I think that’s the only way to move forward.

I’m happy to say that the situation is improving by the day and we look forward to more excellent relations with Nigerians with the vision and mission of this administration. We want to assure Nigerians that the police are out there for them and that they should take advantage of that position.

The successful officers who are trained on basic police duties with intelligence gathering techniques, rule of law, etc, were deployed to their communities to aid in intelligence gathering and improve police visibility in their communities. A sensitization summit was also organized to converse robust responsiveness of all stakeholders so that people can appreciate the benefit and the importance of community policing, as initiated by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The problem facing fueling police operational vehicles is well known. We used to see police officers run around with gallons trying to get some litres to fuel their operational vehicles. That situation is gradually easing now with the ministry securing the approval of Mr President for the supply of fuel to police commands nationwide.

This gesture aimed at improving operation and efficiency with the police was carried out in various trenches at a total cost of N2.75 billion, under the 2021 budget. We endeavour to go into this project. We realize that no matter the number of vehicles that you have in command if you cannot properly fuel them, the operational purpose for which they were deployed to the commands will not be achieved because vehicles cannot move without fuel. 

And the money at the state commands is not sufficient enough to run the commands and the full vehicles. In one and a half years, we’ve been able to provide the police with over 300 vehicles. So if you don’t provide fuel for these vehicles, there’s no way you can support their operational activities. So that’s why we’re paying special attention to this. And I’m happy to report that it is yielding positive results with senior police officers who are very appreciative of the project. And we intend to continue with this, Courtesy of Mr President and the National Assembly.

The ministry through the Police Academy which you are all aware is a degree-awarding institution for the police, has graduated and conducted the passing out of 637 cadets on 14th December 2019, as superintendent of police.

We also admitted 1,295 undergraduates for the 2019/2020 academic session. Additionally, they have also graduated and passed out 603 ASPs in 2018, 627 cadets ASPs in 2019 and 423 ASPs in the 2021 academic year. Further to this, the recruitment of 40,000 constables approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, in trenches of 10,000 per batch it’s now in the third batch. When completed in July 2022, it will improve manpower requirements in Nigerian police by 30,000 in addition to the ASPs that are being graduated between 2019 to date.

In summary, several operational types of equipment were purchased by the Nigerian police force in our efforts to reform and re-equipped police operations. Some of this equipment includes arms and ammunition, surveillance drones, personal protective equipment and underwear trunks, that as bulletproof vests and helmets, and upgraded facilities in some police training institutions. Procurement and installation of intelligence equipment at Force headquarters in Abuja, force headquarters annexe Lagos zone, Kano in Zone II at the cost of N1.1 billion. Construction of hospitals, and health centres for police personnel in various states of the federation. 

Several other interventions are also being undertaken and funded by the Nigerian police Trust Fund for the police. These include the construction of a special force base at Zuba at the cost of N1.7 billion, the construction of a special force base in the southern states at the cost of N1.4 billion, and the establishment of the Nigeria Server Crime Control Center in Abuja at the cost of N841 million. reconnaissance survey, design, rehabilitation and modernization of police detective college, Enugu at the cost of N1.2 billion. Construction and equipping of the FCT command, Abuja at the cost of N1.3 billion. most of these projects are ongoing while some of them are taking off very very soon.

In line with the unwavering determination of Mr President to address the several security challenges which had bedevilled the country over the years, the ministry is poised to do its best to work out a strategy and contribute to efforts towards the repositioning of the Nigerian police force for the protection of life and property and to ensure sustainable economic growth and development.

At this juncture, I  appeal to Nigerians to take ownership of policing endeavours through active collaboration and intelligence sharing. While it will be improper to divulge security strategies, the role of human intelligence in sustainable internal security cannot be overemphasized. It is always said that security is the business of all Nigerians. So we should take ownership and ensure that we give the police every support that is necessary to enable them to perform more effectively. What is important is for you to do what you can do. Keep watching, giving, sharing intelligence, and support the police and the police will support you.

Some Nigerian police barracks in the country are dilapidated even when money is approved for renovation. There is a police barrack for instance that has had no light nor water for over five years. How can they give their best in such a situation?

Talking about police barracks being renovated and what we are doing to improve their welfare. Yes, the police cannot work effectively in that environment. I entirely agree with you. And I believe maybe you missed the few things that I said earlier. Otherwise, we are already aware of this and that is why we are paying special attention to the renovation of these barracks and police formations.

You have to have a very serene environment for the police to perform. So we are aware of this and we are giving it the needed attention that it deserves. I believe we’re already aware, or maybe we have forgotten because it has been a very long-standing story of the paucity of funds, very poor budgeting of the  Police, particularly in the days that you are talking about when you were very young, the police were badly funded. We have never had it as good as we’re having it today.

I want to assure you that the Police Trust Fund and the Police Force Headquarters are now paying special attention to the renovation and construction of new barracks and new officers for the police.  Right now, I am driving a memo in the council which came out last week. And we’re trying to sort out a few issues with the Abuja Development Control towards ensuring that we provide befitting accommodation for our police officers. So, we are on this and I want to assure you that we will give it the due attention that it deserves so that we will have the support and understanding of our police who are using these dilapidated structures all over the country.

Recently, the ex-acting chair of EFCC was promoted, why was the recommendation of Justice Salami’s panel report ignored and he was promoted? And what’s the latest on Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari on his suspension and the rest?

On why Magu was promoted. Well, this is an issue that should have been addressed by the police service commission, which has the responsibility to conduct prom, options of the police. They are not here. And I am aware that the police service commission is directly under the presidency, so I cannot speak for them. But what I know is that Mr Magu has already retired and that is what I can tell you now. The fact that he was promoted is a matter for the Police Commission to maybe throw more light on. I’m not aware of the position of the government on the report you are talking about and I think it is still under consideration. It doesn’t mean that when he retires, the laws will not catch up with him whenever he is found guilty. So I think it’s not completely a finished business.

You also wanted to know the latest on Abba Kyari, the issue of Abba Kyari, you all know where it is. It’s a matter in court. So for me to talk about it, it amounts to subjudice. So please, let’s wait for the decision of the court on the matter.  And we’ll all be there to wish the court the best in whatever they see fit in the matter.

Modern policing is no longer about the use of AK47s and all that. It thrives better on the deployment of technology, precisely CCTV and other equipment that aid, easy and early detection of crimes and in most cases, aid prevention also. What are you doing to ensure that you work on this more than the kinetic approach to security issues?

I like the fact that you have drawn attention to the fact that policing strategy now is no longer about having motorcades, AK 47 and other security gadgets. And that what is required now is high tech to win the war on insurgency or whatever you’re fighting. I agree with you. And maybe you did not hear me well, I indicated our efforts in moving towards technology including policing.

That is the way to go. And we are moving in that direction. But, you know, the police is a civil institution and we’re not even emphasizing these arms and ammunition. What we are emphasizing is to ensure that, as civilians, as we are, we try to ensure that issues are resolved without having to use firearms or anything. And with the support of the community, with the support of Nigerians, the police don’t need to use firearms but we’ll have them and we’re having them in case there is a need to use them.

What is most important is the technology like you said and we are paying special attention to this. And we know the whole world is going in that direction and this administration is not unmindful of that direction and we’re trying to pursue to ensure that policing is technology-driven. We will make sure that the police in this country have the best technology to fight these criminalities. So please support us in whatever we do, we are out there for you, and the police are always ready and willing to support whoever needs our support. In the same vein, we also need your support.

During your presentation, you told us that you have trained 25,000 constabularies for community policy. Have you commenced the implementation of community policing? What role do the communities where the policemen are operating,  have to play? And what are the considerations in deploying officers to those communities?

We couldn’t have trained 25,000 constabularies if the programme had not started. So the programme is on course and is in all the 36 states of the Federation, and these constabularies have been posted to their various communities. And like I said, in my presentation, to do a lot of policing activities in those areas, and to add to the visibility of police in those communities. The responsibility of the communities in which these constabularies are being posted is to cooperate with these constabularies to ensure that they assist them in sharing intelligence, in reporting cases that need to be reported. And to assist them in resolving issues that can be easily or locally resolved. So the community policing programme is there for the communities to ensure that they collaborate with these constabularies to provide peace in their communities.

The issue of unknown gunmen has attracted a lot of comments. There has been a conspiracy theory on that. Even the outlawed IPOB, denied being behind it, calling on security operatives to deal with the people enforcing sit-at!-home order in the southeast. With the available intelligence before you, who are these unknown gunmen? Are they ghosts that cannot be unveiled and tried?

Okay, the unknown gunmen, you want to know who they are? I want to tell you that they are unknown gunmen and they are also criminals. They’re terrorists and we are dealing with them in the language they understand.

In the recruitment process. Everybody knows that there has been a shortage of personnel. What is the latest update on the recruitment of personnel? Especially with the controversy surrounding it?

The recruitment of police is controversial. I don’t know how controversial it is. But I want to tell you that I’ve already reported on this. You will recall that Mr President had directed us to recruit 40,000 Constables within his second tenure. So far we have recruited 20,000, and we are on the third trench of this recruitment. And I think in the next one month or two, we will be concluding the third trench and we will be having about 30,000 constables on our payroll. 

There have been repeated calls for psychiatric evaluation for the police personnel. I’m sure you’ve seen the latest video of a police lady dragging the wheel with a driver and calling for help. Are we going to continue to see such a terrible situation among the police force?

Talking about the psychological test and other tests that you are talking about, I want to assure you that we are busy taking every possible measure to ensure that we conduct thorough examinations, and very extensive screening, including medical tests to ensure that those we are recruiting are not coming just into any job. We are recruiting the best of hands to ensure that we support the principle of good policing in the country.  I am not aware of the case you are talking about, but some of these things sometimes happen in any organization. But I want to believe that there is high mortality in all police formations and we are doing our best to recruit the best from society.

How far have you gone with the ENDSARS demands and implementation?

On how far we have gone with the ENDSARS demands, I want to believe that these demands all boil down to the welfare of the police. So that there will be a civil engagement between the police and Nigerians. More than half of my presentation was talking about, re-equipping, retooling and other packages that we’re extending to the police to ensure that we motivate them, we encourage them to be as civil as possible. These are some of the demands that the ENDSARS came with. Mr President has accepted these demands. And we are making every effort to ensure that we listen to the youth of this country and we try to address these demands and this is what we are doing.

Is the Police Affairs Ministry collaborating with any foreign countries to acquire surveillance equipment, to better provide security in trouble spots across the country?

Yes, we’re not doing it alone. Particularly, we are relating a lot to China. As you’re aware, the CCTV cameras are financed through loans from Nexim Bank of China. Presently, we are procuring so much equipment from China and many other countries. We are relating to ensure that we have the best equipment from these countries that we think we can relate with. So we are relating with several countries and organizations some of them come to us directly to extend their support to us. The police are for everybody. And I think we are aware of this and that is why we are extending our hands of fellowship to China and other countries so that together we build the police of pride for Nigerians.

What are the police doing to ensure the safety of schoolchildren nationwide, since they seem to be soft targets for kidnappers?

On safety of school children nationwide, maybe because you are in Abuja, but the police are doing their best in our schools to ensure that they provide the needed security in those schools. The government has delegated this responsibility to the state governments to select schools that they think require security. And I think many states endeavoured to do that and wherever there is a need for your security in schools, the police are there, assisting other security agencies to ensure the security of our children and for the staff of these institutions. We are there and I believe if you don’t see us in schools, it means the government does not want police in those schools. Because we can only operate in places where there is a need for our service.

You know this country is very extensive. Our population is more than 200 million, of course, the policy is everywhere. But the population will not be adequate to cover everywhere. But we are doing our best to cover as much as we can within the limit of what we can do and within the limit of what is required of us to do.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.