Fatai Owoseni, Lagos State Commissioner of Police who was formerly in-charge of administration at the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters, Abuja, is a man of due process to the core. In this brief encounter with SECURITY MONITOR’s Editor, Wale Abideen and Photo Editor, Shola Akinyele, Owoseni maintains that the Nigeria Police of today is technology driven and warns officers to desist from abuse of office.
Promotion of officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force in recent times seem to be very regular and investigation by SECURITY MONITOR depicts a radical approach different from what used to be obtainable. Is there new law on police promotion or what?
This is what we are saying that the narrative in police is changing. We are moving on and Nigerians need to move on with us. We are changing the story that we are good people. It’s just a demonstration of what IGP Solomon Arase started and we are following his policing philosophy. In terms of logistics, the Nigeria Police is there but human elements that will be used to operate those logistics need to be motivated and of course is a demonstration of police authority’s resolve to make sure that all act of misconduct, extortion, bribery are stopped in the police. Because it’s expected that when our personnel’s moral are boosted and motivated that will also impact on their conducts. This is the very reason for prompt promotion and encouragement of the police workforce.
What are the measures put in place to eradicate indiscipline and act of corruption in the force?
There are so many things that have been put in place; for instance, research has shown us that in some places where police misbehave, where police engage in corruption, it’s just like a public services generally, the fear of unknown that with the sum of money I received as salary and after putting 35 years in service where will I end up? Is the gratuity and pension enough for me? That is why the Inspector General of Police had put up so many welfare measures like – Housing Scheme for the junior ranks, regularized promotions, institutions of scholarship, and trust funds for the children of indigent officers and building of affordable housing with a motivation measures. He also established the Complaint Response Unit, CRU, as another way to let members of the public have a platform through which police misconduct can be reported, then we have strengthen all our public complain bureau, we have strengthen the exploit, the provost unit. So you can see that there are multi strategies to combat misconduct. We have motivational and punishment measures, when you put all together it’s expected that indiscipline will a thing of the past in the force and we will be able to have the police that we can be proud of, the police that the member of the public will be able to call their own police and of course a police that everybody will see to be transparent and accountable to the law.
Why is it difficult for the police authority to stop the illicit act of its men who always extort money from the transporters who in turn increase transport fare?
Listen to me you have to get it right, don’t exaggerate- the Nigeria police force is not what you said; all of you come to say corruption here and there. How many Nigeria police officers have been arrested by the EFFC and found to have built mansions? You are exaggerating the extortion story. The fact that there is an increase in transport fare doesn’t mean that it’s because of police man is collecting money from them, and how many police have you seen doing that on the street, for every twelve disciples of Jesus Christ there must be a Judas You are over flogging this issue. There is no way you will have the number of work force we have and you’ll not find one bad egg or the other. That is not to say we are tolerating them. Bad egg is in every sector. It’s in the media, judiciary and every members of the society, you cannot isolate the police from the larger society. Members of the Nigeria Police are a reflection of the Nigeria society. Nigerians need to appreciate the police. The media in particular need to do away from over flogging corruption in the police. It’s unfair. Nigeria police has changed tremendously. I can say it with all boldness. What you should do is to appreciate what police authority has been doing to sanitize the force. We paraded a police man for misconduct. How many agencies of government have ever done that in this country? For the people who believe in tarnishing the image of the police. I employ the to encourage us by appreciating the fact that measures were been put in place to redress indiscipline in the force. How many agency of government have the platform like Complain Response Unit, which we have for the people to report police misconduct and how many agencies you have seen that has prosecute their staff court? You should appreciate the Nigeria police force for that, we are doing a lot to rid the force of corrupt element and the narrative is changing gradually.
ARE YOU NOT LIMITING THE POWER OF THE POLICE WHEN YOU SAID THEY SHOULD NOT TORTURE CRIMINALS ANYMORE AND WHAT OTHER MEANS WOULD THEY USED TO FORCE CRIMINAL WHO DOESN’T WANT CONFESS HIS CRIME EASILY?
You must be living in the Nigeria of the past. Torture is not part of police investigation strategies. We are in an era of intelligence policing. Our policing method is been backed up with technology, where you do a lot of background checks on criminal before you arrest him and once you make the arrest there are questions you will ask him that will force him to confess his or crime. You don’t need to torture anybody; you can get your fact before you get the suspects. There are ways I will question you now and you will tell me where you slept last night and that is what policing is all about now.