IGP Arase is an insatiable corp when talking about his professional callings as the Nigeria Police Force, NPF metamorphoses from clandestineness to openness and public accountability. SECURITY MONITOR’s Wale Abideen examines the major trends that recently characterized the country’s civil force.
Even though some Nigerians are yet to see the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, as partners in progress the Inspector General of Police, IGP Solomon Arase certainly believed that police under his leadership are on the right path to stardom. ”The journey to reposition the police may be tortuous but desirous. But, I can assure the nation that the Force leadership will continue to demonstrate the strong professional need to bequeath to the nation a police force they can truly call their own. In this journey, we are counting on the support and understanding of all Nigerians.” Arase said during a meeting with top police hierarchy aimed at mapping out strategies for the year 2016.
Indeed, and for the first time in the history of the force Nigerians involve in the monitoring, accessing and discipline of its police. The establishment of the Complaint Response Unit (CRU), is a positive landmark initiative that encourages citizens to monitor their own police and hold them accountable for their actions and inactions. This has been applauded by multitude of Nigerians. Since its inception, the CRU has received and processed over 1,268 complaints from members of the public on its online platform. The first time NPF maintains public communication presence online. According to findings, the social media-based platform is a unique initiative that is supported by the British Government through the Justice for All (J4A) Project. SECURITY MONITOR’s check reveals that such online communication strategy has been an efficient mechanism for deterring men and officers of the force from corrupt practices as well as for investigating erring officers, while communicating feedbacks to the complainants.
The CRU operates a 24 hours call center where first point contact officers are deployed to receive complaints through dedicated social media platforms that are transmitted to appropriate actions unit. The operations of this unit have to the disciplinary actions against officers up to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, Several other officers have been redeployed from their duty post, including the redeployment of a Divisional Police Officer, DPO.
It is worthy of note that the CRU is expanding by the day with officers who are fluent in local languages for a more inclusive probity and accountability system. The police boss recently orders the creation of CRU Investigation Unit to monitor cases of high public interest. The unit as it was gathered will engage in continual research to expand sensitization and collaboration with the public. The response officers process hard copy letters from concern individual and process it to satisfactory conclusion. The unit can be contacted through the following medium:
The CRU Phone Call are – 08057000001 and 08057000002. People can also send sms and watsapp the CRU through – 08057000003. The unit can be contacted via BBM Pin – 58A2B5DE, Twitter @policeNG=CRU, Email; email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
However, in accordance with new police boss policy, the 39-year-old police Sergeant Ologuowa Ojo, who was arrested and remanded in prison custody for allegedly shooting one Taye Akande, a 45-year-old man, to death, for allegedly sitting on the fence where he serves as a guard has been dismissed from the NPF. The sad incident happened on February 3, 2016, during Ojo’s security duty at Frajend Investments Nigeria Limited, located at Akodo, Shapati area of Elemo Ajah in the Lagos Island, where he worked as s security detail. The victim had allegedly refused to get down from the fence when Ojo told him to, prompting the officer shooting him in the buttock and he later died. Apart from being remanded in prison by the Ebute Metta Magistrate Court, Ojo has also been dismissed from the force When he was arraigned in court; Ojo told the magistrate that the shooting was a mistake as he did not want to kill the victim with his AK 47 rifle, as it was a case of accidental discharge. He is at the moment facing trial as a civilian. When he was arraigned in court, Ojo told the magistrate that the shooting was a mistake as he did not want to kill the victim with his AK 47 rifle, as it was a case of accidental discharge. The offence, with which he is being charged, is punishable under Section 221 of the criminal law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2011.
In a bid to stop the menace of recurrence accidental discharge within the force, the IGP affirmed that members of the NPF would be compelled to go for yearly psychiatric and psychological tests, The IGP also said fresh police recruits would be made to undergo the psychiatric test before being accepted into the force. Solomon Arase. “Sometimes I get very worried when police officers shoot innocent civilians and I keep thinking something can be done. Now we are thinking of taking our officers through psychiatric and psychological tests before we recruit them. Even those who are already with us, we are going to make it an annual thing.” “The job we do is very stressful, sometimes not everyone can take the heat in the kitchen, and if you cannot take the heat, you don’t go to the kitchen. So, we are working to see how we can ameliorate the trauma they go through. “I know in the UK (United Kingdom) that if a police officer is involved in shooting, he is removed from core police duties until he is debriefed and he goes through some tests to ensure that he is fit enough to handle firearms. These are what we are thinking of bringing into the system.
On his efforts in combating corruption in the Force, Arase said: “Corruption, which has been identified as the most critical factor holding the Nigeria Police back from the path of quality and professionalism has been one of the main challenges that has been frontally tackled by the current Force Management.”
In this regard, he noted, a three-pronged approach was adopted. First is to target and ameliorate the root causes of official corruption by introducing a number of innovative welfare programs; to strengthen and make efficient all anti-corruption enforcement modalities. This is aimed at identifying, isolating and firmly imposing discipline on any officers linked with acts of corruption to act as deterrence and thirdly is to take advantage of the strength of social media to involve the citizens in the monitoring and accountability process.
While saying that the outcomes have yielded positive outcomes, he explained that: “Between May-November, 2015, the anti-corruption enforcement architecture emplaced by the Force leadership has led to the dismissal of 51 personnel for proven corrupt practices while another 56 have been awarded various punishments.
“The IGP monitoring unit, X-Squad and the Provost Marshall have been charged to sustain the enforcement drive in the upcoming year while the policy of holding Commissioners of Police, Area Commanders and Divisional Officers variously liable for each distasteful professional misconduct will also be reinforced.
In his quest to boost the morale of the force for effective policing, the IGP says “Several housing projects have also been undertaken by the current administration to provide low cost houses for members of the force.
The police in partnership with the NPF Mortgage Bank which has been repositioned are helping officers acquire soft loans to purchase these houses”.
“We have also just recently established the NPF Property Development Company in order to oversee the development of police housing projects. UN Habitat Shelter Afrique, an international company is currently building 25,000 houses in different states of the country,” he noted.
The IGP further explained that while the police housing project has kicked off with 100 units of houses to be built in Enugu, Katsina and Edo states and 50 units in Adamawa State, the goal is to develop 400 low cost housing units in each state capital of the federation, with Inspectors and Rank and File as focal cadre.
Most of these projects, he noted are currently at various stages of completion and that before the year runs out, the first set of housing units will be commissioned.
The attempt to address the root cause of corruption in the Nigeria Police Force through the initiation of landmark welfare programs is designed to address fears, anxieties, and frustration which often contribute and act as temptations for corrupt practices.
Also, we are planning to build trauma centers because most of our officers go through a lot of trauma. And we should be concerned about their mental well-being. I know the type of pressure officers go through.” Arase noted.