Opinion: Time To Restructure The Nigeria Police

The rising insecurity in the land has once again brought to the fore the arguments for State Police. Kidnapping and banditry are at an all time high. Like I said in my last piece, traveling by road from Abuja to any of the north-east or north-west states is suicide mission. 

People get practically kidnapped everyday along Kaduna-Abuja and Taraba roads. These days, the kidnappings are hardly reported because it has become the norm. In my last piece I also called on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on kidnappings as it has become obvious that kidnappers and bandits have declared war on the Nigerian State.

The police had recently launched Operation Puff Adder to rid the highways of kidnappers and bandit. Few days after the launch of the operation, some kidnappers were arrested and when I read the reports I knew it was just a case of ‘initial gragra’. 

I was proved right as less than a week later kidnappers stormed the Abuja-Kaduna road and the chairman of UBEC and his daughter were kidnapped along with scores of others. Although the chairman and his daughter have been released, the fate of others is still unknown.The most frightening aspect of the kidnappings was that it happened around 3.30pm.

In previous kidnap cases they usually happened very early in the morning or late at night, but for the kidnappers to come out around 3.30pm in the afternoon means we are really heading to a state of anomie. My friend went to the Abuja rail station to catch a train to Kaduna and was shocked to see senior military officers boarding the train to Kaduna. See instruction about joining the Nigeria Police Recruitment Here

If senior military men are scared of plying the road to Kaduna because of kidnappers, what do you expect “bloody civilians” like us to do? I have a hunch security personel collude with these kidnappers to carry out their nefarious acts. How can one explain the rate of kidnapping on a road where after 15 to 30 kilometers you see police cars stationed on the road? is also obvious now that the police on their own cannot effectively tackle the menace. 

A combined special force of the police, military and DSS is needed to end this scourge. Only in Nigeria will N38 billion be budgeted for the Police Force of over 300 thousand officers while 150 billion would be budgeted for the National Assembly of less than 1,000 members. This goes to show our priority as a nation. 

There is no doubt that the Police Force is grossly underfunded but increasing their allocation may not necessarily solve the problem. The police need to be restructured completely starting with the recruitment process. A process where thugs,cultist and never- do- wells are enlisted to the police is a recipe for disaster. I also do not think it is necessary a leadership problem on the part of the police. 

Since 1999 we have had 10 Inspector Generals of Police and you can’t tell me they were all inefficient or lack the capacity to deliver on their mandate. The Nigerian police needs surgical operation right from the top. The way to go should be state police; afterall many state governments are already funding the police in their states by providing vehicles and logistics for the force. 

There are fears that governors will abuse state police,which is very possible, because if you want to be honest we are not yet politically mature for state police but like they say, desperate times call for desperate measures . Every instititution in Nigeria is abused by the executive, both at the federal and state levels. So the first goal or target is to build strong institutions that will not be at the whims and caprices of a state governor or President. 

Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing all the time and expecting a different results. We need to try a different approach to tackling the twin scourge of kidnapping and banditry. We are gradually losing the war against kidnappings and banditry and the time to act is now.

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