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POLICE AFFAIRS MINISTERS

By NBF NEWS
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Over the years, persons appointed as ministers of Police Affairs in the country have little or no knowledge of policing the nation. Most times there had been confusion and a clear neglect about kitting the personnel of the Nigeria police since persons appointed to steer the affairs of the Nigeria Police sometimes fail to realize the what the organisation really need.

Time it was when part of the yearly budgetary allocation of the Nigeria Police ranning into billions of naira was placed in a fixed bank deposit at a time when the organization needed fast moving durable and serviceable vehicles and sophisticated arms and ammunitions as well as modern communication gadgets to fight crime. A one time Aolice Affairs minister bought some Peugeot 306 vehicles which were sub-standard without the consent or operational input of the then IGP.

During The first republic the then Inspector-General of Police, Chief Sunday Adewusi who had all the powers and privileges to direct the affairs of the Nigeria police ensured that the Nigeria police had a number of good vehicles and anti-riots equipments. However some of the vehicles such as Range-rovers and some armoured personnel carriers (APCs) were seized from the police by the military that felt the police had no need of such vehicles and APCs another example of lack of knowledge of what police need. Events in the country in subsequent years showed that the police needed those arsenals to quell violent crimes and mob attacks as well as student riots during which the APC's, with warm water-cannisters were applied to disperse angry mobs without inflicting serious injuries on them.

Chief Adewusi's warm-water-cannisters APCs purchased in the early eighties are still visible at some police formations. Then in the early nineties still under a military regime the incumbent IGP Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim Atta made it possible for the Nigeria police to acquire enough serviceable vehicles and adequate communication gadgets and placed a very experienced I.C.T police officer, to be incharge of the communication network of the police. Crimes across the country were reported minute by minute as they occurred in the 36 states including the FCT since the police headquarters at Kam Salem House at Molony Obalende and the other state commands had hot-lines fixed.

The current Inspector General of Police Okechukwu Ogbonna Onovo seems to have his hand, clipped since he hadn't all the powers to functions as IGP. The Police Service Commission, the police Affairs Ministry seem to have sand-witched the IGP. As a sitting IGP the powers vested in the cop has to be with the issue of training and retraining of personnel both local and overseas. The procurement of serviceable vehicles and other tools of work such as arms and ammunitions, promotion of personnel, barrack accommodation seem to have eluded the office of the IGP. Even the area of recruitment, enlistment of cadet inspectors and promotions of the rank and file is currently the prerogative of the police service commission.

Time it was in the past when an incumbent IGP empowers a state command commissioner of Police to elevate rank and file personnel who excel in crime combat activities to their next ranks and that served as moral booster for the crime-fighter. These moral-boosters are no longer feasible as the police affairs ministry and the police service commission act on recommendations sent by the IGP.

The personnel of the Nigeria police both serving and retired have individuals who have deep love for the organization and would do everything legally to uphold the dignity of the force. Individual police officers who were incharge of formations such as the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters Ikeja, the PANTI CID at Yaba, the Zone II headquarters at Onikan Lagos the special Anti-Fraud Unit (SFU) and some others have been able to change the face of the structure they met on ground to modern facilities suitable to habitate police officers and men. The Federal government should look inward within the police to choose who runs the affairs of the Nigeria Police. These retired police officers can run the affairs of the ministry of police affairs effectively.

The later Afro-beat musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti in one of his songs stanza said ''Capenter wey do mason work nasuegbe'' meaning a round peg should not be in a square-hole. Any police officer who had attained the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police to the highest position of IGP is an administrator and can hold any political office given all the necessary platform and tools of work.

The current IGP Ogbonna Onovo should be given free hand to function as the number one top-cop in the country. The Federal government should revisit the salary structure of the Nigeria police with a view to up-grading it.

The Federal Government should also make good the promise it made during the tenure of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to purchase additional helicopters for the Nigeria police.

The helicopters are needed alongside sophisticated operational vehicles fixed with modern communication gadgets. In a situation where ground anti-crime personnel are chasing fleeing criminals, if the air-space permits, the helicopters will hover around the criminal hideout while communicating with the ground men thereby facilitating the apprehension of the criminals.

*Abubaker Musa a Crime Analyst Wrote in fromAbuja . 08033187071