Insecurity and the Nigerian Policing Deficit

By Aliyu Nuhu

Nigeria has never been so insecured than this time and the Nigerian Police is the weakest link among all the security agencies in the country. Because the police is not doing what it is supposed to do,the military is being drafted to do police work everywhere.

Nigeria is among the few countries in the world where the military is doing the job of the police. Using military mindset and training to carry out police job always lead to confrontation and some extra-judicial killings.

The police is responsible for internal security of lives and properties. It is supposed to make Nigeria safe and more secure for economic development and growth; to create a safe and secure environment for everyone living in Nigeria. But today’s Nigeria highlights the failure of the police. The more the president leaves the police to start calling all service chiefs to discuss internal security, the more he misses the point. Nigeria currently has a population of 215m according to UN figures. Meanwhile no one knows the exact population of Nigeria because we produce babies every second. Yet we have 371,000 police force with a ratio of 574 Nigerians to one policemen.

Number is not the only problem with police. It is poorly trained and ill-equipped to police a vast and violent country like Nigeria. No police college worth its name will produce an officer that will break car windscreen simply because a motorist didn’t stop on time or a police officer that kills because of N20. Police officers have engaged in open wrestling among themselves because of bribe sharing. Police have been involved in all manner of crimes including armed robbery and kidnapping. Police were entrusted with the safekeeping of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s house and they stripped it bare and sold everything including his clothes. If police doubt these stories they should just Google the media and see for themselves what they have become in this country.

In the past we used to say police problem starts with poor pay packages. But a constable according to media reports that used to earn N43,000 before is receiving N84,000 now!

So salary is not the problem but training and working tools including personnel numbers.

To secure Nigeria we must address the problems of police. We need nothing short of 5m police personnel. We need to decentralize the police. The police needs specialized training in crime detection prevention,law enforcement and prosecution of crimes. Police needs working tools. The Nigerian police needs finger print specialists,DNA and fingerprint expert,DNA/fingerprint banks,special body armour and all the technologies that make police great in other countries.

From start we are short of quality from the ranks and files. The president needs to fire near all the lower ranks from constable to Sergeant. They have the worst concentration of police bad eggs. Their problems started from the criteria set in their recruitment. Most of them graduated from crimes to enter police and perfect the crime while legally armed with guns and live ammunitions. A constable should have a degree as entry qualification. He needs training at all levels of the job including foreign training. We have seen a constable from Scotland Yard addressing our president. Tell me a Nigerian constable that can stand before a councillor without kneeling down with shouts of ranka ya Dade and yes sir! Yes sir?

We cannot solve violent crimes and live in peace without addressing the policing deficit we have in Nigeria. It is simply the bitter truth for the president to know. He could not just summon all security chiefs because there was kidnapping on the highways or attack on a village. The military is supposed to fight wars and protect the territorial integrity of the country not patrol streets trying to rescue one religious sheikh or school children abducted by bandits.

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