From Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
In this interview, former Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, discussed the security challenges in the country and what should be done to increase the productivity of the Nigeria Police, instead of creating state police.
Is the Nigeria Police Force over-stretched?
The strength of the police, compared to the Nigerian population, obviously, we are over-stretched.
What was the police population at the time you left?
When I left compared to now, the police is operating at very low-level population.
What were some of the things that you would want the IGP to do to improve the police force?
The issue is that police are over-stretched, they are operating at a very low level, compared to the population of this country. Within a period of time, if we can increase the population of the police to tackle the challenges we have in the country, that will assist a lot.
Is there improvement in the welfare of the police?
No, like I said, taking consideration of the population of the country, the police are over-stretched presently. We need to do something to increase the police, for them to adequately tackle the level of insecurity in the country.
Does that mean much hasn’t been done to help in combating insecurity in the country?
Obviously!! A lot has been done but I think more has to be done to tackle insecurity in the country.
What does government need to do to make the police more productive?
A lot needs to be done to improve the strength of the police for them to adequately tackle crime in the country.
Do you think its necessary to improve the welfare of the police, like salary?
A lot needs to be done to address the challenges of the police in Nigeria, a lot needs to be done.
Do you support the establishment of state police?
When you say state police, you are creating another problem to tackle an existing problem. We should address the issue of the inadequacy of the police compared to the country’s population.
What do you think of using a female team to combat insecurity?
Of course, we have policewomen, they can use police women to tackle banditry. We have policewomen. We can create that unit within the police, to take care of banditry.
With many regional security outfits, what are the implications and would the trend end insecurity in Nigeria?
To establish a unit, you have to train and arm the men; it’s not just establishing a unit, you train and equip them to tackle these criminal situations. They have to undergo training and, once you do that, its going to be a very difficult situation.
What was your greatest challenge while in office?
In this country, in tackling insecurity in the country, we face the same challenge, and you have to look at the issue of recruitment, training of men. You have to train people to tackle the situation. Presently, a lot of them have left the service, I don’t know what is on ground but we need more policemen, obviously.
You said a lot has to be done, can you itemise these things?
One is the training of men. We need to train policemen, we need to train them to tackle insecurity, then equip them, give them the equipment to tackle insecurity.
Are you saying that police are poorly equipped?
I am not saying that they are not well equipped but you train them and equip them to tackle their responsibility.
Recently, we have had cases of attacks on police station, especially in the East; what do you think can be done to boost trust in police?
We need to tackle attacks on policemen. That is a very serious crime, and until we look into those attacks on policemen, the morale could continue to be dampened.
What can be done by the force to gain the trust of Nigerians?
I think you should talk of government. What should government do? I think government should look into the attacks on policemen because it dampens the morale of the police; we have to look at those issues and study them deeply. Has anybody done any study on those?
What has life been like after retirement?
You can see my life, this is my house.
What has been your experience after retirement?
I have been resting and resting.
Do you have any political ambition?
Politics? No, no, no. I am resting now.
Your advice to the current IGP?
They need to study the attacks on policemen because that thing is very dangerous. It dampens the morale of serving police officers and it affects even their input. They need to tackle it urgently as those who are serving would not put in their full effort. This issue of regional security is also dampening the moral of serving policemen and I think that government should also tackle it urgently.
There have been rumours of police men buying their accessories how true is it?
I don’t believe it, rumours can be true or false but a policeman does not buy uniform.
Police Service Commission or the NPF, who is responsible for the recruitment of police?
From the previous experience I had, the government recruits police. They recruit and train them. The government can be Police Service Commission or the Nigeria Police Force.
Your advice to government on how to end insecurity in Nigeria.
Let them tackle adequately the requirements of the police. If they handle that adequately, this country would be adequately policed. To address police in this country, you talk of need of requitement, training them, arming them. And welfare is very important because you need to give them welfare.
Is welfare the reason why the police collect money for bail despite stating that bail is free?
Money for bail? In which country? Bail is free.
Last year, there were agitations for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS); do you support it?
From the name what does SARS mean? They set them up for a purpose. Are we still facing the problem? If we are still facing the problem, it’s just to train and equip those units and make them more effective.
Is there any form of gender discrimination in the police force?
The issue on ground has to do with police rules and regulations that forbid women from getting pregnant before marriage. But the matter is being addressed and its in court.