IGP Idris and the making of a new Police Force

IGP Idris and the making of a new Police Force

Last two week’s arrest of a notorious kidnap master­mind, Chukwudidumeme Onuamadike, a.k.a.Evans by IGP’s Intelligence Response Team led by ACP Abba Kyari marks a turning point of sorts for the Nigeria Police Force which has not had a good pub­lic image for many decades.
Evans, who was said to have coordinated several kidnap­pings in Lagos and Ogun States, was nabbed in Magodo area of Lagos State last Saturday. Until his arrest, he was regarded as the most notorious high profile kidnapper in the history of Ni­geria. He was said to have col­lected several billions of naira as ransom in the last seven years, as kingpin of kidnappers.
The last time policemen were seen as heroes was when men of the force arrested Lawrence Anini, a bandit who terrorised Benin in the 1980s along with his side-kick, Monday Osun­bor. Acting on a tip-off, a crack 10 man team led by Superin­tendent of Police Kayode Uan­reroro, on December 3, 1986 brought Anini’s reign of terror to an end.
For decades, the conduct of police personnel has caused serious image and operational problems for the Force. The duties of its officers and rank and file had been compromised because theyhad tailored them chiefly to cater to the highest bidders, who could in fact be criminals that should be pros­ecuted, not provided cover.
It is commonplace to hear al­legations of corruption, incom­petence, unprofessional con­ducts and other questionable practices that have nothing to do with normal police duty or the maintenance of law and or­der being levelled against police officers. But that is fast giving way to a more professional and highly motivated police force that is well equipped to cope with the challenges of contem­porary policing.
Although the arrest of Evans is the single most important turn around for the current leadership of the Nigeria Police, several other successes record­ed in the last one year under the leadership of the Inspec­tor General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, point of the fact that a new Force is indeed in the making. But more significant is the fact that the IGP is not your typical Nigerian public servant who does everything to attract media attention to himself.
Idris has every reason to at­tract attention to himself. Firstly, he was selected from among the eligible senior police officers because he was the only one who passed the integrity test secretly conducted by the presidency. Secondly, since his appointment exactly a year ago, he has completely repositioned the force to arguably the most efficient police force in our re­cent history.
Testimonies to that effect abound. In February this year, the IGP Special Squad freed, Professor Peter Breunig, a Ger­man Archaeologist kidnapped by bandits in Southern Kaduna and his associate, Johannes Bu­ringer in what was a major suc­cess in the fight against kidnap­ping. The Police also secured the release of Major General Alfred Nelson, the Deputy High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to Nigeria who was kidnapped by men of the underworld.
The capture and killing of armed robbery kingpin, Henry Chibueze who terrorised the South East region of the coun­try from his den in Imo State is another major achievement of the IGP in the last one year of his administration.
Praise came for the Police boss when he successfully pro­vided security cover for air travellers to and from Kaduna, during the temporary closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Interna­tional Airport, Abuja. Idris de­ployed 350 policemen to ensure security of passengers along the Kaduna-Abuja expressway and aerial surveillance by police helicopters which assisted in checking criminal activities in the area during the period.
Unlike his predecessors, Idris has ensured that police check­points scattered across the country are taken down. This order has since taken effect and has affected all the states except checkpoints within states where extraordinary measures are still in place in response to attacks blamed on the Boko Haram sects, recurring herdsmen/fam­ers clashes or the menace of kidnapping.
The nation’s most senior cop has argued at several fora, that checkpoints have their uses if they are used to specifically check crime or apprehend criminals. “But when they ac­quire the negative perception that they have, they become money-spinning points to which superior officers des­patch their trusted subordi­nates to make ‘returns’ in the form of financial gratifications, then they are compromised”. Regular patrols by well moti­vated police personnel have ef­fectively replaced checkpoints.
Some of the egregious but common practices of the police, like detaining suspects without charge for more than 24 hours has been discontinued while the law on detention of persons is currently being strictly ap­plied.
On the above scores alone, IGP Idris has every reason to roll out the drums as many a public servant with far less achievements have done. But then, these are not his only achievements.
Another achievement of the police high command that is unprecedented is leading role it is playing to foster inter agency cooperation to make Nigeria more safe and secure. In this breath, the IGP has strength­ened the relationship between the police force and other sister security agencies through cour­tesy visits to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Chief of Air Staff (CAS), the Comptroller Gen­eral of Customs, Commandant General of the Nigerian Secu­rity and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and other relevant organisations.
Similarly, the Inspector Gen­eral has established the Emi­nent Persons Group across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT with a view to engag­ing all relevant stakeholders; traditional rulers, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nige­rian Labour Congress (NLC), Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), Mar­ket Women Association, Na­tional Union of Road Transport (NURTW) and many others to make inputs into how society can become safer and more se­cure.
The Nigeria Police under IGP Ibrahim Idris is not taking the loyalty of its officers and men for granted. Rather, it is placed high premium on their welfare as a way of encouraging them to do more. Already, housing projects have commenced in many states through PPP ar­rangements for the construc­tion of affordable mass housing for the officers and men of the force. Unlike in the past when policemen went on strike over their entitlements, officers now get their salaries and allowances as and when due.
As a way of ensuring sustain­able funding for the force, the police high command is push­ing for the passage of a bill for an Act to establish Police Trust Fund BillThe proposal is one of the provisions of the Nige­ria Police Development Fund (NPDF) establishment bill, sponsored by Senator Abu Ibra­him (APC, Katsina).
The bill which has passed first reading seeks to establish NPDF for the training and re­training of personnel of the Po­lice Force and for the provision of equipment and related facili­ties for the enhancement of the skills of the personnel.
In addition to the one per­cent of federal revenue, a levy of 0.005 percent of net profit of companies operating busi­nesses in the country and an amount not less than 30 percent of money accruals to cyber se­curity have been recommended for the funding of the police.
When established, NPDF shall among others looks into the training, equipment, bar­rack need of a police for the overall improvement, perfor­mance and efficiency of the Po­lice Force.
These efforts have not gone unnoticed on the international scene. Only recently, an inter­national recognition came the way of the IGP, with his elec­tion, by African Police Chiefs as the Vice Chairman of the re­gional police body.
With so many achievements in his first year in office as the nation’s number one police man, the public can only expect even better than the excellent leadership he has been provid­ing for the force that has been acridly excoriated in the recent past.
Augustine David is a public affairs analyst based in Benin. -The Authority

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