President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved a 20 percent salary increase for the police to take off from January 2022.
Minister of police affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, said the approval aligns with President Buhari’s promise to enhance police personnel pay as demanded by #EndSARS protesters last year.
Police duty tour allowance was also raised by 6 percent just as N1.2 billion was released for the payment of uninsured benefits of police personnel as well as another approval of N1.2 billion for the payment of outstanding allowances.
Also approved for the police is an annual insurance premium of N750 million tax waiver for junior personnel to take effect from October 2021.
This newspaper lauds the increase in the salary of policemen; however, the reformation of the police force goes beyond the increment of salaries.
Indeed, in the considered opinion of this Newspaper, the government needs to go the whole hog by initiating a complete reform of the police force.
Increased funding and improved police wages will just paper over the cracks and will not achieve the desired effect.
Sadly, the Nigerian police have suffered neglect at the hands of successive governments and this must stop. The barracks of police officers is an eyesore not fit to be habited by human beings.
In 2017, the International Police Science Association’s World Internal Security and Police Index, WISPI, ranked the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) as the worst in the world, coming in as the 127th out of 127 countries on the scale. The WISPI ranking examines the four domains of internal security, capacity, process, legitimacy, and outcomes.Because in the early ‘70s and ‘80s, Nigeria paraded one of the best police establishments in Africa and beyond, this ranking is a monumental tragedy.
Regrettably, in recent years, the military has been drafted to cover the core function of the police in the country. The Nigerian Army is engaged in 33 states towards addressing internal security challenges across the country. The police, who are in charge of internal security and protection of lives and property within the shores of the nation, lack the capacity and manpower to tackle the twin problems of insurgency and banditry.
The Nigerian population is approximated at over 200 million with a police force of 370,000 personnel. This is inadequate considering the United Nations recommendation of 450 population per police officer. This deficiency in numbers is further exacerbated by antiquated and decadent operational techniques.
Sadly, an average Nigerian views the police with disdain and distrust no thanks to the corrupt tendencies of most of the policemen. Abuses by the police range from arbitrary arrest and unlawful detention to threats and acts of violence, including physical and sexual assault, torture, and even extrajudicial killings.
The EndSars protest in October 2020 was sparked by the constant extortion and extrajudicial killings by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police.
The reformation of the police needs to start with the recruitment process of the force. A process where political thugs, cultists, and ne’er-do-wells are recruited into the police is not the best. This practice must stop.
The recruitment process must be stringent and thorough as only men and women of proven integrity and character should be recruited. We also call for massive recruitment into the police force.
Also, structural problems like holding accountable police officers who squander and steal police funds, public complaint mechanisms, internal police controls, weak civilian oversight, and underfunding must be adequately addressed.
Unfortunately, the Nigeria Police Force lacks the required modern equipment, technology, and hardware to combat crime and criminality in the country. The government needs to invest massively in technology to enable the police to fight and detect modern crimes.
Again, the brings to the fore the arguments about state police. We have consistently advocated on this page that the time is ripe for state police. In our view, the police as presently constituted cannot tackle the worsening insecurity in the country.
From the foregoing, it can be seen that the police need support from the federal and state governments to improve on its operational efficiency. Addressing the structural problems will go a long way in having a police force every Nigerian will be proud of.