CHALLENGES OF EFFECTIVE POLICING IN NIGERIA
It is the primary responsibility of the police all over the world to maintain law and order in every country. In Nigeria, the police have been carrying out this onerous responsibility for a very long time. While it is agreed that policing a country like Nigeria with its multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-political and multi-social bearings is a herculean responsibility, it is not a mission impossible.
So far, the police could be said to have done well in the maintenance of law and order in the country in spite of huge and glaring challenges. The organization has done fairly well overtime but a whole lot more still needs to be done in 2010.
The force may not record much success in crime fighting, control and prevention in 2010 in the country if it refuses to purges itself of the numerous negative traits it has almost become synonymous with over the years. One of such traits is corruption. Despite the fact that many policemen caught in the ignoble act have been dismissed from service, some others still carry on with this nefarious act as if it is a lawful duty.
Again, despite the fact that Nigerians are informed time and again that bail is free and is boldly written and displayed in strategic places in most police stations in the country, Nigerians are still being asked to pay for bail in some police stations. Even citizens who come to police stations to make genuine complaints are at times asked to make payments for stationeries before their statements are recorded.
Another area where the force seems to have performed below expectation in the past and needs to improve upon this year is in the area of violence control and management. Some Nigerians especially the youths have been felled by police bullets in the name of controlling crowd violence. In such cases, many of such culprits attribute such unfortunate occurrence to accidental discharges.
Many Nigerians are yet to recover from the shock which the horrendous action of the policeman who opened fire on innocent patients in a hospital last year in Ibadan inflicted on their psyche. The scenario of top politicians and successful businessmen engaging policemen as orderlies without permission from the police high command is worrisome and should not be allowed by the force in 2010. The clampdown on the illegal use of policemen in the country which the police high command began last year is highly commendable and should be carried to its logical conclusion since it will help to restore the glory and image of the force.
There is every need to reposition the police in Nigeria to conform to what is obtainable in other countries of the world. Security is a very sensitive issue and no nation can afford to toy with it. There should be serious retraining in 2010 towards attitudinal change and professional efficiency and proficiency among both the rank and file and the officer cadre of the police. There is need for the police to improve its public relationship. They should see Nigerians as their fellow human beings who deserve to be treated with a high level of courtesy and decorum. Inflicting pain and fear on defenseless Nigerians they are paid to protect is antithetical to the ethics of their profession.
The Federal Government should as a matter of urgency equip the police with ultra modern arms and ammunitions as well as security gadgets. This has become necessary now more than ever to enable the force fight the gruesome scourge of armed robbery and orchestrated kidnappings ravaging the entire length and breadth of the country. It is disturbing to hear that in some cases the police cannot match the superior fire power of armed robbers in some robbery incidents.
The Federal Government however deserves commendation for improving the welfare package of the police from time to time. This is very commendable as a poorly paid police man is a serious security risk to the entire nation. While the government labors to take care of our police personnel, the onus is on them to reciprocate this kind gesture by performing their traditional duty of protecting the citizens of this country and their properties with resilience and gallantry.
Nigerians should help the police to discharge their duties optimally. They could do this through giving vital information to them on the activities of undesirable elements in the society. Such invaluable information could help the police to perform creditably. Nigerians expect so much efficiency from the police this year since their work is so vital to the sustenance of peace and security in the country for a secure nation is a safe haven for the entire citizenry.
Okaneme is of the Department of Philosophy, University of Abuja