With the sporadic extra-judicial killings linked to the Nigeria Police Force recently, we tend to cast our light on the things done wrongly, and not on solutions.
I was going to suggest the use of taser or stun guns as an alternative to actual guns, but recently the Inspector General of Police brought up that innovation. It’s a commendable move, as it will help the police disarm even an armed criminal without killing such a person.
The following, if adhered to, could help in changing the image of the NPF with regards to how they treat Nigerians:
Long Guns Rather than Short Ones
Hey, chill! You’re not going for a deadly operation. In other climes, as I have seen, it’s only where they call for backup or are going for an operation that you see the various types of guns in their varied nomenclatures. In clearer words, the police patrol team don’t wield big guns. Just a simple pistol and they’re good for the streets. The pistols, even, are often in the leather straps and buckled to the waist. They only unbuckle and pull out the gun when there’s a need to use it. This is to ensure safety. It’s only in places like this that citizens believe that “Police is your friend.”
Private Guards to Politicians and Foreign Contractors
It is rather appalling that the Nigeria Police, despite being an independent federal agency, and part of the executive arm of government, would stoop so low as to allow themselves be made into private guards for politicians.
The most annoying is when they stand behind a cigarette-puffing foreign contractor, holding bags and umbrella for their master(s), in the name of security. What happens when the person you’re guarding breaks a provision of the law? Will you play patriotism as a Nigerian police, or will you be loyal to him for his tips?
Aside from the ruling governors and president, any individual who needs security should contract with licensed private security companies, period!
Blackmailing Citizens for Money
I have witnessed where the police made a random pick of passersby in the name of investigating a crime. These innocent souls were offered a way out after several hours of detention: pay a certain amount of money and be set free, whether or not you are innocent. This is the birth of the saying among Nigerians: “I follow ₦5000, I no follow ₦10,000.”
The alleged rape of women who were arrested in Abuja by police officers is trending. Their story is that some officers slept with some of them and illegally collected money from some others to secure their release. How did we get here?
Corrupt Chain of Settlement
The road blockade and it’s intended end result of “roja” can never die a natural death among the police. This is because the problem of bribery is not a minor affair of the junior officers, but shamefully amongst the top positioned officers. Deadlines are given – whether weekly or monthly – on what to remit from taxing road users. This money, to the surprise of Nigerians, goes even to some political godfathers who influenced the appointment of these police heads. This shame of a nation must stop.
Recruitment of Desperate Job Seekers
It’s an obvious fact that most Nigerians despise the NPF. The reason is not far from the bad name it has acquired over the years. It is, however, suspicious why so many persons still troop in once their recruitment form is out. Your guess is as good as mine: there’s no job, simple! The influx of persons who are not intellectually qualified to be in the police, and persons without the zeal and passion for a saner society, is a major bane of the Nigeria Police.
Substandard Trainings for the Recruits
Because these newbies have little or nothing else invested in them apart from the arms they’re given, they, at anytime, fall back to the gun at the spur of the moment. A trained police officer is endowed with such skills ranging from speed (in chasing culprits by foot), to martial arts, to hostage negotiation skills, etc. Using a gun is their very last resort. Recruits of the NPF are given barely any trainings, hence, the extra-judicial killings we see today.
Not Dressing Smart
This last point may not really be of great importance, but it should be considered. Appearance tells a better story than words do. Dressing smart here includes putting on an outfit that went through a good laundry; a fitted uniform, not the notoriously worn oversize we see. This would show that the wearer is fit in everything, even to chase criminals on foot. However, no matter how trim a uniform is, it can never look smart on a pot-bellied policeman. Hence, the need for the commission to work on members of the Nigerian Police Force.