The Nigeria Police Force is no doubt an endangered specie. And there is also no doubt that policing in Nigeria is the most dangerous job in the world. It is almost like if you enlist with the police you are signing your death warrant. It is not an exaggeration that the Force’s personnel are the most uncared for in the country if not in the world. Their living conditions are appalling while their self esteem arising from the shabby treatment meted to them is at its lowest ebb.
I must have written about the Nigeria Police more than twenty times dating as far back as 1974, but more pointedly in 1976 when the then Ogun State Commissioner of Police Mr Chris Omeben lamented that the police personnel were abandoning the Force in droves. Regrettably nothing seems to have changed since that era. The only difference is that due to mass unemployment those in the Force cannot afford to leave. The Nigeria Police cuts a sorry sight. Their pay is very poor. Their condition of service is nothing to write home about while their barracks and offices are derelict and suitable only for pigs. Some of the windows in their offices have fallen off while many of such offices have no toilet facilities. You can hardly get drinking water in most of the offices and even in the barracks.
And yet these are officers and men whose quality of training and service is comparable with the best anywhere in the world. Many of the Police personnel have more than one University degree while a good number have received professional training locally and abroad. I dare say that they work hard and come rain come sunshine they are usually found at their duty posts.
Unfortunately because of the few bad eggs amongst them the Nigeria Police do not enjoy the appreciation that is due to them from the public. The Nigerian elite are amongst the most corrupt in the world, coming perhaps second to the political elite in the US, yet they expect the Nigeria Police to be angels in the midst of devils. The roguish politician who brings home tons of Ghana Must Go bags expects his Police aide to be amused.
The thrust of this article is the serious danger the Nigeria Police are exposed to on daily basis. In neighbourhoods, on the streets, on the Highways as well as at establishments and institutions they are assigned to guard, the Police are always at serious risk. They are sometimes ambushed and murdered in cold blood.
Any time I pass by the Nigeria Police on the highway my heart is full of pity for them. I see them as sacrificial lambs tied to the post for the gods to devour. Sometimes ferocious armed bandits numbering about thirty in say two or three vehicles would simply overrun the police. This is more precarious at night when the police patrol the highways. And in this era of kidnapping and ritual murders the plight of the police has become more dangerous and life threatening. Even though the federal and state governments try to provide crime fighting equipment and gadgets, such provisions are not as sophisticated as the weapons and armoury of the criminals. To make matters worse, stiff necks in successive governments have turned deaf ears to the cry and clamour for police decentralisation. The Nigeria Police Establishment is the only one of its type in the whole world. There is no other police force that is under single control. But for terrible political selfish considerations those who have found themselves in the commanding heights of the country’s political leadership have refused to institutionalise community policing which has been the norm in all sane countries.
Given the abnormally high level of mass unemployment, the unprecedented level of general poverty, and the high degree of restive and restless youths denied admission to higher institutions, and the reckless looting by the political elite it is strange, very strange that crime rate in Nigeria is this low. Credit for this low rate of crime must go to the efficiency and self sacrifice of the Nigeria Police. If the injustice and deprivation currently enveloping Nigeria were to exist in some other countries, say UK or the US crime rate would have been uncontrollable.
There are two things that require immediate action if the serious predicament of the Nigeria Police is to be resolved. The first is the immediate decentralisation of the Force. Every local government must have its police while the states also have the state police while retaining the Federal Police, in a truly federal setting. Living conditions of the Force at all levels must be improved including provision of modern barracks and decent office accommodation across board.
With the establishment of local, state and additional numbers for the federal police, the police-civilian police ratio would tremendously improve. Right now the total police strength put at around 370,000 is not sufficient for Lagos state alone! Nigeria with a population of 192 million, making her the 7th most populated country in the world requires police strength of at least 1 million. Salaries and other personal emoluments must be revised upwards immediately. Paying Sergeants a paltry 50,000 Naira a month is grossly unacceptable. With the serious hazards attached to their job no police man or woman should earn less than 80000 Naira per month.
The Nigerian public must be sensitised to show more appreciation for the herculean task of the Police. Government itself must treat the Police more nicely than it is doing at the moment. Everything should be done to boost the morale of the Police while desisting from assigning ‘boy-boy’ jobs to them. Political office holders should be prevented from treating the police as errand boys and girls. I hope the NGO Police Friends Foundation PFF would lend its weight to dignifying our police personnel and its institution.
SAT GURU MARRAJ-J AND CORRUPTION
The respected Sat Guru Maraj-j has lent his divine force to those who have for long campaigned for the use of Africa’s cherished science to reduce and eradicate corruption in our land. Recently the Man of God suggested that traditional elders should be contacted to apply African super natural means to compel looters to surrender their loot.
Before mentally colonized religious fanatics and bigots start crying foul, it should be pointed out that even the US, Italy and Britain among other countries employ the services of Mediums [ Diviners, Babalawos, Seers, Necromancers] to unravel knotty crimes in their countries. Those who believe and embrace foreign miracles should believe and embrace their own home brewed miracles too.
Two instances: In 1981 armed robbers invaded my country home and the residence of Sam Banjoko and carted away valuable properties and cash. When the Vigilante were contacted the following morning, they invoked extra terrestrial powers and behold, the robbers who had gone as far as some 30 kilometres returned with the loot on their heads to the spots where the goods were initially stolen from.
In 1983 or thereabout at Odo-Ona in Ibadan, armed robbers raided a pharmacy shop, packed their loot to be carried away but when the morning broke all the robbers laden with their dangerous weapons were seen sitting on the ground in front of the Pharmacy shop.
Nigeria’s looters can be made to voluntarily, under a spell, return the loot in their possession to a designated hall..