POLICE IS YOUR FRIEND.
The Nigeria Police Force had its origin in Lagos, the then federal Capital, more than a hundred and thirty years ago. The British consul charged with the Administration of the colony of Lagos, complained that he had numerous duties assigned to him amongst which was the maintenance of law and order , and in April 1861, permission was obtain from his principal in London to establish a consular guard comprising of 30 men.
Two years later in 1863, this small body of men became known as the” Hausa Guard. It was further regularized in 1879 by an ordinance creating a constabulary for the colony of Lagos. As Inspector- General of Police commended this force recruited mainly from Hausas and known as the Hausa constabulary. The force was mainly military in character, although the men performed some civil police duties.
On Ist January 1896, the Lagos police force was created and armed like the” Hausa constabulary”. A commissioner of police who was also Sheriff, Inspector of weights and measures and the officer in charge of the prisons headed it. Criminal investigation Department at Alagbon close, Ikoyi, lagos was established in 1901 a fire Brigade was added. While the developments were taking place in Lagos and part of the Yoruba heartland, the areas now known as Edo, Delta, Akwa Ibom, River and Cross River States were declared the oil Rivers protectorate in 1891 with headquarters at Calabar where an armed constabulary was formed. In 1893 the area was proclaimed the Niger Coast constabulary, modeled on the Hausa constabulary was formed. It existed for six years and featured prominently in the British expedition to Benin in 1896.
In the Northern parts of the country the Royal Niger Company, which has granted a Royal charter in 1886 by the British Government, set up the Royal Niger constabulary in 1888 with headquarters at Lokoja to protect its installations along the banks of the river Niger. It had a mounted company known as carrol s' hoses. The Royal Niger constabulary played an important role in British campaigns against Bida and Ilorin.
When the British Government in 1990 following the transfer of administration from the Royal Niger Company proclaimed protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria. The Royal Niger constabulary was split into the Northern Nigeria police force and northern Regiment.
In the south, the Lagos Police force and part of the Niger Coast constabulary became the southern Nigeria police force in 1906 while the bulk of the Niger coast constabulary formed the southern Nigeria Regiments. In addition to normal police duties the new police forces were responsible for dealing with international disturbances and external aggression.
After the amalgamation of Northern and southern Nigeria in 1914 both police forces continued to operate separately until 1st April 1930 when they were merged to form the present Nigeria police force with Headquarters in Lagos, commanded by an Inspector- General of Police. The Title of Inspector- General of Police was replaced with commissioner in 1937 but the original title was reverted to in 1951 after introduction of a new constitution. The designation commissioner was assigned to the officers then in charge of the Regions.
The creation of twelve (12) states on 27th May 1967, which was used as Police commands with each headed by a commissioner of police, rose to Nineteenth (19) in 1976. On 14th October 1986. Zonal commands headed by Assistant Inspector- General of Police each was introduced to conform with the political structure of the country in 1986, 1991 and 1996 additional states were created thereby changing the federal structure to thirty- six (36) states and equally providing for thirty-seven (37) police commands including FCT, Abuja and Twelve (12) zonal commands in the country while the force Headquarters operates as a police command.
Nigerians assumed overall leadership of the force in 1964 when the late Mr. Louis Orok Edet was appointed the first indigenous Inspector- General of police since then over ten other Nigerians including the present Mr. Abubakar Mohammed, Inspector- General of police have held the office till date.
It is sad that the Nigeria Police force have been relegated to the background as a result of corruption which usually identified with police officers. The Nigeria Police force needed to be commended for its forensic security protection among its citizenry over the years. Over 70 percent of police officers in Nigeria are creditably doing their work with no blemish but corruption has enveloped the entire process. Since the sudden emergence of infamous fundamentalist called” Boko Haram” in the Northern region, many police officers and stations have been killed and burnt down. The Nigeria police are being victims of Boko Haram onslaught in recent times. If any security agencies can count of lost of police officers, then the Nigeria police force are the great victims with no amiable solution from the federal government despite its promises at any given incident of the Boko Haram members in the Northern. Even the South- south and South East where kidnappings are at geometrical progression, Police officers have been wickedly killed.
In as much as we all Nigerians continue to condemn police officers in the country, painting them as black sheep and the most corrupt security agencies in Nigeria, yet corruption being practiced in other sectors of the economy are silently being covered with dignity of other reputable professions in the country. If police is removed from Nigeria, the security lawlessness will envelop the entire country. Most of these celebrated murder cases are being investigated by the Nigeria Police force. The recent removal of the police force from the major highways across Nigeria has equally created more armed robbers and social speril in the country. It is of record that the Nigeria Police force is well trained to the core, even though they are ill- equipped in all ramifications. If all security agencies can response to security threats as the way police officers do, then Nigerians will never complain about the insecurity anymore.
One of the recent face book murder's case of late Cynthia OSokogu was thoroughly investigated by one gritty and resolute senior police officer in Lagos, Dan Nkem Okoro who gallantly brought the perpetrators of this evil act to book and won award to his credit which was bestowed by the Inspector- General of Police, Mr. Abubakar Mohammed. Every Nigerian must be ready to commend the Nigeria police force whether we like it or not. The fact remains that the Nigerian policemen are assiduously working hard to maintain peace and order. Take away police out of the country and see the high velocity of crime in the country. Other security agencies cannot protect Nigeria. Police must be your friend because it protects lives and property. Police also settle other minor issues in Nigeria. Police are more accessible to the people than any other security agencies in Nigeria. No organization which does not have bad eggs. Raiding and illegal arrests are more pronounced in the police force and dodgy allegations of people arrested by the police but that does not mean we must discredit the first-rate works of our police officers in Nigeria. Most of the police officers are well- trained and highly educated to the core. Out of all the security agencies in Nigeria, the Nigeria Police force is more prone to gangland men. It is good that the Nigeria Police force is financially equipped by the federal government and not to be rubbished by corruption in Nigeria.
Lastly, most of the police barracks across the country are nothing to write home about and our prisoners are living in the mercy of God. Police monthly salaries are mere nothing while the government has abysmally failed to provide adequately for them. Even some other security agencies are well- paid and protected than the police. Out of the 776 recognized local governments and unrecognized LCDAs in Nigeria, every police station is sited with various police posts or units to help to maintain peace and order against lawlessness in the land. In international communities, police officers are well-equipped and fed but in Nigeria the reverse is now the case. To the extent that when a police officer died while in duty post or otherwise cannot be instantly compensated or have any insurance in his or her life. The Nigeria police are poorly remunerated. 40 percent of the Nigeria police are being posted to sumptuous Nigerians and government officials in spite of several bans by various Inspector- Generals of Police in the country. Our police officers should be regularly undergoing trainings while their promotions should be regular. Senior police officers should be checkmated against excesses in the system. Police reforms should be the priority of the federal government while the issue of state police should be discarded. The police colleges should admit qualified people not half –baked ones into the system to avoid corruption in the long run. First class arms and ammunition should be provided by the government to meet up the day to day security challenge in Nigeria.
BY GODDAY ODIDI. PUBLIC AFFAIRS ANALYST 08058124798,20, oro street Ajegunle Apapa lagos