STRENGTHENING POLICE INTELLIGENCE UNIT
Former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Sunday Ehindero, recently decried
what he called lack of operational capacity of the Nigeria Police to combat rising crime wave and insecurity, especially the insurgence of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram.
The former police boss said the intelligence unit of the police that is critical to handling such serious security challenges is moribund.
The unit, he said, lacks what it takes to gather and monitor intelligence. He traced the deplorable state of the police intelligence unit to the incapacitation of the force by the military through the creation of the National Security Organisation (NSO). The NSO later metamorphosed into the State Security Service (SSS), which is independent of the police.
The situation, he said, makes the police no match for a group like Boko Haram, which can only be contained through serious intelligence operations. Ehindero is not the first notable security professional to question the capacity of the police to checkmate general insecurity and terrorism in the country. He has only added his voice to many before him who have raised similar concerns. The no confidence vote frequently passed on the police in its battle against Boko Haramand insecurity deserves a response from the current Inspector General of Police (IGP), Hafiz Ringim. He needs to let Nigerians know if Ehindero and others who have spoken before him are right. Let the IGPprove to Nigerians that Ehindero and the other skeptics.
are wrong and that the intelligence unit of the Force can handle the nation's security challenge and the Boko Haram menace. Ringim ought to be concerned enough about these grievous verdicts to either disprove them, or tell the nation what he is doing to remedy the situation. The problem of insecurity in the country is such that if the police need special intervention from the presidency to rev up its intelligence unit, the authorities of the Force ought to be conscientious enough to ask for it.
So much money has been expended on security in recent years that Nigerians can no
longer tolerate excuses for non-performance. It has become necessary to ask where all the money voted for security goes, if the police cannot establish and maintain a credible intelligence unit at this time of grave security challenge. Nigerians should be able to see results of the investment in security.
The nation is also tired of the endless wrangling between the police and the military. The routine shifting of blame by the police on the military, which it says does not want the police to be a counter-force, will not get Nigeria anywhere. If past military governments tried to weaken the police intelligence unit by setting up the NSO, which became the SSS, was that not over a decade ago, since Nigeria has been under democratic rule for about 11 years now?
What have the police authorities in the past 11 years, including the present leadership, done to strengthen the alleged moribund intelligence unit?
The police and the military in Nigeria should eschew buck-passing and work as a team. All hands should be on deck to tackle general insecurity and the Boko Haram challenge.
There is no doubt that the police need a strong intelligence unit. There should be co-operation and sharing of intelligence between all security organs of government. The fundamental problems of rivalry and mutual suspicion among the military, the police and the SSS should be tackled. There is also the problem of money appropriated for security over the years not being used for what it is voted for. If security funds are judiciously used, the security agencies should be able to fight Boko Haramand general insecurity with superior intelligence.
Year 2012 offers the police and the nation's other security agencies a chance to clear the Augean Stable and discharge their constitutional duty of securing the polity. Luckily, so much money has been voted for security in the 2012 budget. The sector has been allocated N921.9 billion, about one-fifth of the entire N4.7 trillion budget. This is to signpost the importance government attaches to security.
With such huge funds voted for security at the expense of other sectors, Nigerians will no longer accept excuses for non-performance from the police.
Adequate attention should be paid to strengthening of the police intelligence units, general intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence. The police should also increase investment in technology, including finger-printing technology, to help its work.
With the huge vote for security in the 2012 budget, the police should be properly funded so that we can get results in form of improvement of security of life and property in the country. Let security agencies see Ehindero's poor assessment of police intelligence capabilities as a wake-up call.