April 1, 2023

Rtd Police DIG to Buhari: Why are you not asking questions about funds you approved for police revival?

petrol subsidies

•Says police failing heavily despite more funding
•Shocked at police action during the 2023 elections
•Sad private investigation yet to fully take off

By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor

Godwin Chijioke Nwobodo is a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police. A native of Enugu state, he served in almost all departments of the force before ascending the enviable height of number two in the force. He was in charge of Information and Communication Technology before he retired meritoriously as a Deputy Inspector general of Police.

A fellow of the National Defense College and a legal practitioner, he opened up on the just concluded elections in the country and other issues concerning the profession he served for thirty-five years. Excerpts:

Highpoint in the force

I was the Divisional Police Officer for two years in Oru West (Mgbidi), Imo state. That is one of the high points of my career because I succeeded in bringing down crime. That time, it was almost like a rudderless division before I was posted there. If you still go to Mgbidi today, they will still attest to the fact that one Wawa man transformed policing there. They will be like aah!, if it was the time that the Wawa officer was here. Then, when I was Area commander in Langtan, Jos, Plateau state and Assistant Commissioner of Police in Lagos command. I was in the operations department, Rivers state when then Governor Chibuike Amechi was prevented from entering government house.

Low point.

My low point was the fact that I was denied promotion. I was promoted Chief Superintendent of Police in 1998. They said I had a pending disciplinary matter. A matter that I was not involved. I did not commit anything. It was simply tribal sentiments. The officer was detailed to recover money for a complainant.

After recovering the money, he kept part of it to himself. The man complained and I was asked to look into it as a senior staff officer. That was in Umuahia.

I was not in investigation but by virtue of the fact that I was staff officer senior, I handled matters affecting senior officers like their leave, disciplinary and all those matters.

So, I did all that I needed to do and the officer went back and settled with the man. But somehow, they told me that I was negligent. I did not commit any offence. I was not the one who withheld money. When promotion was released, somebody called them from force headquarters and asked them to delete my name from the promotion list. I never got that promotion back until another five years.

I continued to tell the authorities that I didn’t commit any crime. I continued to demand that my seniority be restored back. Each time I wrote, they turned it down. Of course, you know the system. There was a time in this country that the only people who were said to be committing offense in the Nigeria Police Force were people from South East extraction.

You would go to Force Secretary, all the PVN would be Igbo, South Easterners pending disciplinary matters. They delayed my promotion. Of course, I lost my seniority but I continued to insist that I did not deserve the punishment.

When it came to operation, I was in charge of the PMF. I was the unit commander. Of course, ethnicity also prevented me from becoming 2ic or squadron commander. Sometimes, we are trying to be politically correct. People, majorly from my own ethnic group, require major intervention.

People will say your position is enviable, you retired with very high rank and all that, and so what, so I should not talk the truth? You can imagine me telling you that I have never wanted my child to join the police. This is because I would not want my child to experience what I went through. I was not fairly treated. I thank God I got to the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police. That was what I referred to as the mighty Hand of God. Not because anybody wanted me to get there.

At some point, they said I should not even write again but I refused. I said I was prepared to go to the National Assembly. I was even prepared to go to the United Nations. And the final time I wrote, they discovered that I did not commit any offense. That was how they quashed the punishment of severe reprimand against me. They quashed it, released my promotion, and backdated it. That was how I was able to catch up a bit. Though, I didn’t catch up with them, but it was better. The Inspector General of Police then was my course-mate while I was a Deputy Commissioner of Police.

Police preparedness for the elections

Well, I hope they will not say I am being unfair to them. But from what I saw, they were not prepared. They were ill-prepared because, on the day of the election, I went round. There were so many polling units within my own area, Eti-Osa. I was an observer and I went from polling unit to polling unit. There were places the presence of police was so scanty. What we used to do, what I did as a divisional police officer in 1999, when we resumed this democratic regime was to have all security agencies send their men to me.

I would make sure that we had at least one security person in each polling unit with arm because that is the rule and we would also position backups, patrol vehicles to be able to respond in the case of emergencies or threat to security. We did strategic posting to different places. And I would be moving round. This is what I did when I was a divisional head.

As Area commander in Ogudu, Area H, Lagos which was the largest in the whole of Lagos then. It is now three area commands. I would move from here to Epe, come back, go again and come back. That is after I ensured that police men were in every polling unit. Policemen stationed in polling units are supposed to have a copy of election result. But in the last elections, they were not here to collect results especially in the area I covered.

When there is controversy about election, the people you refer to are the police to produce their results. The police men in each polling unit are supposed to collect the results. When they get back, the divisional police officer will write a report stating what everybody had and forward to the Area Commander, and the Area Commander will forward to the Commissioner who will forward to the Inspector General. From all indications, it was not done in the past elections.

Police performance

International observers and so many other people that observed this election said the police performed woefully. There is a saying that flies support the person that has a sore? It is not in the place of police authorities to commend their men. It is left for members of the public. I saw video clips in the media where police were snatching ballot boxes. I saw where policemen were thumbing. I did not witness it but I saw those clips and maybe, perhaps it was part of African movie, Nollywood that were uploaded over the media.

I talked to a very high and senior police officer. I told him about how the security of the election was not too attractive. You know the reply he gave me? That there is no place in the world where election is fair and free. That whoever is not satisfied should go to court. Yes, a police officer. Should that be coming from a very highly placed police officer?

Payment of policemen on election duty

Normally, allowances are paid to policemen. They are supposed to receive it before they proceed for elections. I believed some people were paid. But the two policemen attached to me at the time of the elections told me they had not received their allowances. I will not say more than that. What we saw during the elections were short of our expectations.

The new Police Act made very robust provision for inter agency operations and synergy. They should have called out Civil Defense, Prisons, Federal Road Safety Corp and every security organizations, NDLEA. All these outfits should have been represented in all polling units during the elections even if the policemen posted to polling units are not armed, because that is the position of the law or that’s part of the guidelines.

At least, you will have somebody to tell you what transpired in the course of the election. And of course, there should have been robust deployment of patrols within the shortest radius. Assuming you have adequate patrols on Lagos Epe express way for example, any of the polling units can call them easily and they’ll respond.

Police welfare

Policemen attached to the polling unit, did they have walkie-talkies? You, journalists, should probe this; this government cannot be totally bad. There must be one or two things that these governments did well. Let me remind you that this particular government made some provisions meant to enable the police to perform. Not even logistics alone, propagation of the new police act, police security trust fund; you investigate what is the percentage. Pick the police trust fund act and see how much is going into that fund. That fund is supposed to provide adequate funding for state-of-the-art training and equipment for the Nigerian police force.

Why must the police use more analogue facilities two or three years after so much money has been accrued to that fund? I have not seen anybody talking about it. The new police act made provision for us to have independent investigators and investigations. Somebody is supposed to make the subsidiary legislation detailing the guidelines for us to have a private investigating division in Nigeria.

In terms of police welfare, there are provisions in the police security trust funds, the provision of the new police act, and improvement in police salaries. When I retired my salary was N150, 000 as a DIG. Buhari government made it about ten folds.

But, is it being implemented? Why is the police management lacking in implementing these noble ideas? It is what you call a priority that is a priority for you. That is not a priority to them. Salaries have been increased. Is it the logistics? We have a police trust fund. A lot of funds have over grown there.

It is supposed to be used to provide state of art infrastructure but it is not being done. Of course, the money that is accrued is being used to settle other things, as usual with Nigeria. Is it the police identification card? In spite of Buhari’s ideas and noble gestures, the police have not been able to make any impact. The police have become more undisciplined, more abysmal in their performance.

Way out

We should balance police deployment. We cannot have police of one tribe in Lagos. What we used to do in those days is that if the Commissioner of Police is from South West, or North East, you make the Deputy Commissioner come from another tribe. If you take the other officers, you try as much as possible for it to reflect the national character of Nigeria. But it is lacking now.

Then discipline of the officers. They should try as much as possible to enhance discipline. My interaction with policemen for some time now shows that there is a decline in discipline.

They are not doing the right thing, the right time, the right way. If you were supposed to be on duty by 8am, when you come by 9am, is that not indiscipline? When you see a senior officer and you are supposed to salute, standup come to an attention, which shows that you are alert and you seat down and cross your legs and you don’t even recognize it. Those things are not the performance of the job per say but they are indications of discipline. It amounts to rottenness if the junior officer sees the senior and treats him with contempt.

What Buhari should do for police before he leaves

The president has done a lot for the police. But how are his appointments? If you have done something well in the past, why don’t you look for someone you know will be able to really take the police to a higher height based on the things you have done. Why is President Buhari not asking questions about the funds he approved for police? Based on the robust actions he has taken to improve the police why no questions? Particularly, I keep stressing these police funds because it was meant to last for a short period. It is not a permanent thing. It is for some time to change the fortunes of the police, revive the police.

It is not there forever. It is meant as an intervention measure to shore up the fortunes of the police. So, why is he not asking what is happening to the funds?. By now, people should be going abroad for training, skills. We should acquire drones to monitor our forests. How much is it? What they are doing is awarding contracts and you know what our contracts means. Some people are clamoring for extension of tenure. I understand the new police act makes the Inspector General a tenured appointment. It is supposed to be for four years.

War between police and Police Service Commission

During the launching of a book by former Chairman of Police Service Commission, Chief Okeke, General Obasanjo said a lot. Some of my colleagues started criticizing him that he doesn’t like police but as far as I am concerned, Obasanjo told us the truth because I do not see why or the reason for the constant loggerheads between the Police Service Commission and the Nigeria police.

The Inspector General is an operational head of the police. The commission is in charge of the personnel from provisions of the constitution; they are in charge of recruitment, promotion and discipline. Police Service Commission is in charge of the human resources aspect of policing.

The IG is supposed to use the resources to police the country. The president is above everybody and he is represented by the minister of Police Affairs. I think the minister of police affairs ought to, apart from the provision of the constitution and the extant laws, work out a way for the police service commission and the IG to work together. But most times, it’s the IG that is going beyond their bounds because they tried to usurp the powers of the commission. This is the dilemma. I think they have gone to court. The court ruled in favour of the Police Service Commission. That is why top officers promoted recently cannot wear their ranks. They are acting.

Sometimes, it is even the commission that is causing their own problem. They do not assert themselves enough. The constitution empowers them to perform certain functions. They can delegate to the IG, quite alright. But the IG should stop where his power stopped.

New Chairman for PSC

The police is a very powerful organization in Nigeria, no doubt. Sometimes, I think the politicians are even afraid of the police. Sometimes, I also think they are afraid of the IG. I am aware that a new chairman has been appointed for the Police Service Commission.

If you check those in the PSC, they will prefer not to have former police men as their chairman and sometimes, we don’t really need to blame them. Did Chief Okeke and late Alhaji Tafa Balogun not work together? Did we not have achievement for the police during their period and Okeke was a pure civilian? Do you think any other chairman performed more than Okeke as chairman of PSC? And we police, we are fond of destroying anything given to us. They made us in charge of those approving private security companies; we lost it to Civil Defense.

They made us head of EFCC, we have lost it, Magu threw it away. Now, Police Service Commission, if care is not taken, the people might insist that they don’t want to work with a former IG. Is it a good testimony? Most of the time, what is playing out is ego and ignorance, pure illiteracy. For instance, we, the retired officers, cannot even go to the office of the present Inspector General of Police. I don’t think he is approachable because we can’t even go to his office. Even as retired DIG, we cannot go to his office. They don’t allow me to enter his wing and I’ve gone there severally as a practicing lawyer but, they don’t allow me as a retired DIG to cross to his office. Why do they detest us?

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