By Abubakar Musa
On April 22, 2015, the Nigeria Police Force witnessed the appointment of the 18th indigenous Inspector-General of Police. Until then, Mr Solomon Ehigiator Arase was in-charge of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Bureaux (FCIIB).
Having assumed office at the Force Headquarters, Louis Edet House in Abuja, IGP Arase set the ball rolling. One of his primary assignments was the banning of all forms of roadblocks nationwide. Those roadblocks were seen by many road users and other commuters as “spots of toll” collection by some unscrupulous police personnel.
As an officer who believes in the standard of living of the men and women under his command, he is bound to boost their morale by ensuring that their welfare is well catered for. A well focused and intelligent officer, IGP Arase unfolded strategic plans to curb the rising wave of criminality such as kidnapping, cultism in our higher institutions of learning, cyber crimes, arson, murder and insurgency. Arase did not stay long on acting capacity as IG. He got confirmed to a substantive IGP within the shortest possible time.
Without good mobility and communication, the discharge of duties by any security organization is hampered. For his vision, IGP Solomon Arase rolled out over 250 NISSAN pick-up vehicles all fitted with modern gadgets of communications. Inscribed on the vehicles “Safer highways”, the vehicles were deployed in batches to all the 36 State Police Commands and 12 Zonal headquarters in the country.
Arase ensured that the highways vehicles were manned by specially trained police personnel. The vehicles were to be refueled at designated petrol filling stations in their areas of operations.
The IGP and his management team soon mapped out strategies to be in tune with the current administration’s desire to stamp out all forms of crimes and criminality in the country. Thus, a community approach to crime prevention by the police alongside with the military and other security agencies was adopted by the police hierarchy. An elated President, Muhammadu Buhari, at a National Security Summit with the theme “Community Patnership Approach to Internal Security and Crime Management” organized by the Nigeria Police Force on August 17, 2015 in collaboration with The Sun Publishing Ltd, said that “with the little resources at hand, the Police has been able to put forth over 250 security vehicles on the roads code named “SAFER HIGHWAYS”. The President immediately announced that the police would in the course of the year recruit 10,000 new personnel to support the current fight against crime. The recruitment is already underway.
The President’s statement was a motivation to do more by the Police High Command. To forestall the excesses of the various police Special Anti-Robbery Squads nation-wide, IGP Arase ordered the disbandment of the units and called for their re-organization. Some of the notable innovations brought about by Arase include the creation of a Special Intelligence Unit headed by a crack Superior Police Officer whose office is directly under the IGP’s office.
The first major breakthrough of the IGP’s Special Intelligence Unit was the rescue of elder statesman, Chief Olu Falae, who was allegedly abductded by herdsmen in his farm in Akure, the Ondo State capital. This unit was also instrumental in the arrest of a group of dare-devil bandits who in a bloody raid robbed some banks in the Festac area of Lagos. Recently, the Intelligence unit of the IGP’s office collaborated with operatives of the Lagos State Police Command led by the Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, to rescue three students of a missionary school abducted from their school premises by gunmen. The rescue and eventual release of the three girls brought relief to the nation and the parents of the girls. The hitherto moribund Police Force troop department in Garki District Abuja, has been given a face-lift. Similarly, a modern dog-section fitted with state of the arts equipment to cater for the needs of the dogs as well as their handlers and trainers.
In March this year, the IGP in furtherance of his desire to see Nigerians go about their daily duties without fear of attack from hoodlums and sleep with their two eyes closed, launched another set of 250 Crime Prevention Patrol vehicles tagged “SAFER CITIES”. The launch of these vehicles coincides with the federal government’s desire to re-launch all displaced persons who fled their homes from the North-East following attacks by insurgents. For IGP Arase, the changing face of policing in Nigeria has to begin with the reorientation of the rank and file of the Police Force.
The rank and file have to go through psychological tests before carrying arms for operational duties. This is in line with the desire of the police authorities to curb the frequent incidents of accidental discharges by arms carrying police personnel. To further curb the excesses of accidental discharges by unscrupulous police officials who are deployed to public functions to provide security, these personnel could apply stun guns to disperse such uprisings without fatal casualties.
For Arase, change has indeed become inevitable in the day to day operations of the Nigeria Police Force. This is in tune with modern trends in policing.
•Musa, a crime analyst, writes from Abuja