In recent history, the Nigeria Police has proven itself to be a weak force in terms of professionalism and the capacity of the personnel to effectively combat crimes and enforce the law throughout Nigeria.
Few years back, the Nigeria police due to the archaic policing standards foisted on Nigeria one of the most devastating threats to national security and indeed the corporate existence of Nigeria known as boko haram terrorism.
It was precisely the extra-legal execution of a hitherto unknown quantity called Sheikh Mohamed Yusuf whilst in police detention sometimes in the year 2009 under the then president Umanru bMusa Yar’adua that the almost 5 year old terror bombing campaign started.
The extrajudicial killing of the ideological founder of the deadly Islamic sect boko haram precipitated the launching of full blown violent armed attacks against public and private institutions by boko haram Islamic extremists which has so far accounted for over 30,000 lives of innocent Nigerians of divergent ethno-religious extractions .
Infact in that incident, Mohammed Yusuf was captured alive by Soldiers and handed over to the police in Maiduguri, Borno State but got killed inside police detention within 78hours. He was shown even on the national television of Nigeria alive and well in the custody of the Army and then handed over alive to the police only for the unprofessional police to produce the body bag of Mohammed Yusuf the next day or so. So you can now see how one carelessness of the police in Maiduguri has foisted on us a war that has so far led to the killings of over 30,000 and the destruction of North East of Nigeria. At a point before the last administration chased them away and recovered over 90 percent of the territories occupied by boko Haram terrorists, these armed Islamists nearly dismembered Nigeria following the unprofessional handling of an ordinary law enforcement such as detention of the suspected ideological founder of boko haram terror gang.
Apart from cases of extra-legal executions of suspects in the custody of the police which are documented by the office of the United Nations high commissioner on human rights, Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch amongst others, the Nigeria police lacks most of the basic skills, facilities and 21st century compliant trainings necessary for proper, effective, efficient and comprehensive policing to comply with global best practices.
To compound the institutional inefficiency of the police is the clear lack of up- to -date enabling laws on the strategic engagement of the police in modern day crime prevention, detection and enforcement of laws.
Scandalously, the extant Act that made provisions for the organization, discipline, power of the Nigeria police force, came into being during the inglorious colonial times on April 1st 1943. The British who gave us this archaic police Act have constantly reviewed their policing manuals are are working with the most up-to-date policing standards.
The question to ask is why the Nigeria police force operates in the twenty first century with the operational template put in place in 1943.
Perhaps, the backwardness of the police in effectively combating criminality was displayed clearly in the attack at the Catholic Church in Ozubulu Anambra State in which the police were caught napping and scampering for excuses as to why such a bloody crime happened in their very before.
This is because the police arrived at the scene of the shooting clearly one hour after the shooters who killed dozens of Nigerians had disappeared.
To even add salt to injury, the police made no attempt to deploy modern techniques to secure the crimes scene nor to collect critical ingredients of forensic evidences from the scene of the crime.
Is it that the police don’t have tapes or even ropes to be used in blocking off the crime scene from persons seen on video moving up and down on top of the blood dripping down from the casualties?
The state commissioner of police in Anambra State was overtly interested in dishing out rumors as the police’s preliminary report and what was clear from all of these was the deliberate attempts to hide away the clear failure of both intelligence and security competence on the side of the police. The State governor also helped in spreading rumours.
How can a nation have a policing institution without the modern facilities and the trained manpower to scientifically embark on criminal investigations using modern day skills, techniques and infrastructures?
Why does the police even under the extant archaic police Act not have clearly enforceable response time from the time of a crime being actively committed to rapid arrival to effectively restore order?
What are the duties, powers of the police even under the archaic crime prevention Manuel or statute?
The police Act enacted on April 1st 1943 averred as followed: “The police shall be employed for the prevention And detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged, and shall perform such military duties within or without Nigeria as may be required by them by, or under the authority of, this or any other Act”.
As can be seen from their laxity in Ozubulu the police failed woefully.
Another probing issue is why the police does not seem to be amenable to adapting to emerging policing standards as practiced in civilized climes even when the heads of the different state and national branches of the police are frequently been sponsored to attend seminars on crime prevention in such places as United Kingdom, United States of America and Germany?
Not long ago the InspectorGeneral of police was seen travelling to meet with the Metropolitan police of London and few days back officers from MET police were in Nigeria. Do the Nigerian police officials visit United kingdom on jamborees or what?
What then is the function of the training and manpowers development department of the Nigeria police if in the last five decades the Nigeria police have not upgraded her principles and practice of effective policing?
In the United Kingdom, the Metropolitan police which operates in London has kept bridging the time within which the operatives respond to distress calls and the last time I checked it was 8 minutes.
Also the metropolitan police have a practice of rapidly securing crime scenes and deploying modern techniques and skills to collect evidences to be forensically examined.
As I write, the metropolitan police has even introduced electronic crime mapping.
The Metropolitan police force has introduced its first trial crime map showing burglary, robbery and vehicle crime for the whole of London.
The Met online crime mapping project, which uses data up to the end of June this year, is an initiative launched by the former London mayor, Boris Johnson.
The crime mapping project uses Google Maps technology combined with Met Police crime data, highlighting London boroughs with above- or below-average crime rates and comparing rates for different months and years.
Southwark scores worst on crime levels, which increased by more than 100 individual incidents between May and June this year.
Another four of London’s 32 boroughs, including Westminster and Hackney, were above the overall average crime rate across the capital in June.
Seven outlying boroughs, including Richmond, all saw below-average rates of crime for London in June.
Users can zoom in on the map to see specific rates for their neighborhood, or search by postcode.
“The Mayor made crime mapping a key manifesto commitment and it is an integral part of our strategy to make London safer, ” said Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for policing.
“It is a proven technique for increasing public safety and putting extra resources into crime hotspots where they are most needed.”
A Met spokesman emphasized that this version of the map is a test phase and will be subject to a technical review.
“The software development will enhance the service that we currently provide regarding the number, rate and geographical location of defined crime types within the capital,” the spokesman said.
“The electronic crime maps will sit alongside the crime statistics that are published monthly on a ward, borough and pan-London basis.”
He added that the initial version will be limited to burglary, robbery and vehicle crime data and that the software will be enhanced before a formal launch in September.
Malthouse said the then home secretary, Jacqui Smith, had “recently converted” to the crime mapping programme following the work by the mayor’s office, consequently announcing a project to introduce maps for police forces around the country.
Police forces in Hampshire, Lancashire, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire are all conducting trials of their own crime maps. The government hopes the initiative will increase public confidence in the police and keep them more informed on local crime problems.
These updates as encapsulated above have worked well as reported by the British Guardian of August 15th 2008.
Why are officials of the police in Nigeria more interested in the pecks of office but care less about manpower development? What happens with all the facilities and vehicles donated by state governors? Why are violent crimes going up even as national budgets for police and defence increases astronomically?
Why is the NPF bereft of discipline and professionalism which as can be seen were lacking in the way they responded to the massacre in Ozubulu? These ineptitude of the police must be uprooted for lives and property of the Nigerian citizens to be secured in line with the constitutional mandate. What is government without security?
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com.