Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has attributed incessant cases of extra-judicial killings, misuse of firearms and other criminal activities perpetrated by police personnel to work-related stresses and emotional conditions which he said disorient their rationality.
He, therefore, ordered an end to the current 12-hour, 2-shift, work structure in the Nigeria police with immediate effect save for local or national emergency.
The IGP gave the order at the opening of the maiden conference of Heads of Nigeria Police Medical Services which held at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
With the new order, it is expected that no police personnel should work more than 8 hours in a day just as there would no longer be the traditional two-shift work structure which is the current practice in the force.
The IGP said that the reversing to the 8-hour duty had become necessary to instil sanity in the police and make them regain public trust.
He said: “For the purpose of clarity, henceforth, no police personnel should be made to perform any duty exceeding 8-hours within a space of 24-hours unless there is a local or national emergency.”
According to him “indeed arguments have been raised that the resonating incidents of misuse of firearms and other extra-judicial actions by police personnel often result directly from work-related stresses and emotional conditions which disorient their rationality.
“In consideration of this, I have ordered that with immediate effect, the shift duty structure of the Nigeria Police which is a 12-hour, 2-shift system should be reverted to the traditional 8-hour, 3-shift standard.”
“This directive is specifically informed by the need to address a major age-long occupational stressor which long hours of duty engenders among the personnel in the Nigeria Police Force which occasions depression and abuse of power and other unprofessional conducts.”
He, therefore, charged the medical service to complement the order by guaranteeing a healthy work-life balance and ensure that the personnel attain the highest possible level of health status to prevent occupational-health stress factors which manifest into fatigue, compromised immune system, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, irritability, risk of substance abuse and emotional instability.
He said “all of this if not medically managed could engender unprofessional reactions with fatal consequences to the affected police personnel and members of the public.
“Additionally, the NPMS must start emplacing strategies and techniques including cognitive therapy and emotional intelligence models that will strengthen the stress management capacity and operational resilience of all personnel.”
He, therefore, charged the police medical team to review and strengthen its institutional and personal capacity “towards intervening in national emergencies occasioned by acts of crime and terrorism, and enhance its ability in the management of defilement, rape and other gender-based crimes.”
Earlier in her address at the occasion, an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Obembe Olufumilayo, who is also the Force Medical Officer, called on the authorities to conduct a thorough medical, mental and a psychological evaluation of candidates during recruitment.
The medical evaluation according to her was necessary to ensure proper selection of fit and qualified entrants into the service to address the current negative public perception of the force.
She said: “To address the current negative public perception of the police, it is essential to emphasise the need for medical, mental and psychological evaluation of candidates during recruitment for proper selection of fit and qualified entrants into the force.
“Mandatory periodic and regular assessment of the health resilience and coping mechanisms of our officers are also needed during training and while in service performing their statutory dues of protecting live and property.
“Consequently, this would reduce the prevalence of sudden deaths and misuse of firearms, contrary to the provisions of Section 237 of Police Acts and Regulation, positively impacting on the good image, effectiveness and efficiency of the force.”