By Shina Philips
Crime Fighting in the modern world is fast changing and progressively evolving. The landscape of crime has so significantly changed that a paradigm shift in modern security arrangement is inevitable if the world must be kept safe and secured.
The traditional line between local crimes and external aggression has become so considerably nebulous that an efficient internal security apparatus is dependent largely on an elaborate collaboration between the security agencies notably the police and the military.
Joint operations of police and military personnel in intelligence gathering, anti-crime and counter-terrorism operations have become the hallmark of a new shift in paradigm in the world of security.
While this is common knowledge to security experts, the ordinary Nigerian who can’t travel, work or sleep freely in recent times because of the threat of kidnappers, robbers, bandits and terrorists are solely looking up to the Nigeria Police to keep them safe.
As an integral part of the nation’s internal security arrangement the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to the security and unity of Nigeria has never been in doubt. As a public institution, every year, the Force loses gallant men and women in the line of duty; this notwithstanding, it have remained committed to the safety of Nigerians.
Unfortunately, Nigerians have continued to bash the Force because of the activities of a few bad eggs and an age-old stereotype which continue to becloud the massive transformations ongoing in the Force. Fortunately, the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman is turning the tide and a new Police Force is already emerging under our noses’.
X-raying Nigeria’s Security Challenges
In the last two decades, Nigeria ’s six geopolitical zones have become swaths of varying forms and degrees of criminality triggered by an upsurge in the activities of an array of petty and oil thieves, pirates, cultists, kidnapping gangs, murderous ritualistic groups, cybercriminals, secessionists, militants, bandits and terrorists. The sheer number of these criminal gangs, their effrontery, the increasing sophistication of their operations, their use of top-grade military hardware and infiltration by influential transborder extremists and ideologists has combined to stretch the nation’s security apparatus and unsettle the citizenry.
The Nigeria Police effectively curtailed the spread of cultism among youths in the Southern part of Nigeria. The killings and kidnappings which made the South-East unsafe a few months ago are gradually coming under security check as security forces are increasingly winning the battle against the ruthless Unknown Gunmen who have enforced a reign of terror in the region. There is much to achieve, but the success so far recorded is encouraging for citizens and investors.
The most serious threat to Nigeria’s internal security today is the activities of insurgents and terrorists ravaging the North-East and North-West. Experts believe there are close to thirty thousand well-armed terrorists and bandits organized into roughly a hundred groups and very well-oiled with cash, extremist ideologies and possession of military grade weapon and ammunition including RPGs.
These groups survive by attacking residents, organizing kidnap and mass abduction of students, collecting taxes and levies from communities in exchange for protection from other bandit groups and carrying out raids on one another in a vicious competition for land, resources and dominance. Their stature and influence appear to grow largely as a result of their access to huge cash, seemingly inexhaustible cache of ammunition, mobile nature of their operations and their ability to thrive in ungoverned or under-governed spaces in the North.
Notwithstanding these security challenges, President Muhammadu Buhari will go down in history as one of the presidents whose administration has spent the most on military equipment in order to re-equip the nation’s military and make it formidable in modern warfare. The President has also approved an annual recruitment of at least 10, 000 new recruits into the Nigeria Police Force. However, Nigerians expect more!
A New Police Force Is Emerging
The appointment of Alkali Baba Usman as Inspector General of Police in 2021 has turned out to be one of Mr. President’s most perfect decisions. IGP Alkali’s policy drive and strategies have shown him to be a man designed and built to lead the Force into a new era of policing in this generation.
To close watchers of the police institution, the Inspector General of Police has remained determined, goal-oriented and fully focused on his mission to make the Force more operationally strategic and more effective in policing activities. Police officers are now more conscious of their interactions with the public because the dark days of police brutality and impunity are gone!
The IGP has completely digitalized police recruitment through a transparent process which has been highly applauded. The training department, in line with the IGP’s vision successfully institutionalized the process, thereby removing unnecessary bottlenecks and barriers which often characterize the recruitment exercise in many of our institutions.
Continuity is Key
The appointment of a new IGP has always signaled a massive change in the top echelon of the Force. However, IGP Alkali Usman introduced several epoch-making innovations and retained a few necessary ones. This expressly demonstrates his unique quality and sterling leadership style. His drive has always been to prepare the Police Force to face the challenges of a modern Nigeria.
Training, Retraining and Capacity Building
IGP Alkali Usman has approved several training sessions for officers in order to build their capacity to function in their roles and to fine tune their skills to better function as professional police officers. The Conference and Retreat for Senior Police Officers, first organized in 2019 by Matchmakers Consult International, has grown to become an annual capacity building gathering for all senior officers from the rank of Commissioners of Police.
The last edition was held in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom. The IGP played a very active part both as a participant and as a Resource Person. In preparation for next year’s General Elections, the IGP has again approved the organization of another edition in October 2022 to prepare senior officers for effective policing during the General Elections.
Effective Policing at Elections
Since assuming his role as Inspector General of Police, IGP Alkali has mustered the Force to police three off-cycle elections: Anambra, Ekiti and Osun Elections. Characteristically, all three elections have been largely peaceful as a result of a change in policing strategy. Surprisingly, the IGP has achieved this almost effortlessly, thus giving Nigerians hope of a peaceful General Elections in 2023.
Rebuilding Police Infrastructure and Welfare
On assumption of office, the IGP had singled out the welfare of officers and improvement in education in the Force as a cardinal focus of his tenure. In the light of this, IGP Alkali Usman has been relentless in his efforts to rebuild police buildings including Barracks, renovate and refurbish police vehicles and equipment and improve the state and standard of education in the police schools and training institutions. The renovation of police barracks has been a source of motivation to officers and their families.
Responsive to Public Complaints
The Inspector General of Police has continued to enforced discipline in a bid to build public confidence in the Force. As IGP, he has vanquished the days of recklessness, indiscipline and impunity among officers especially in their dealing with members of the public. Every single reported case of indiscipline by any officer has been thoroughly investigated and officers found guilty, have been shamed and punished appropriately.
Commendation should also go to the Force Public Relation Department and all State Command PPROs who have been more responsive and have continued to engage citizens on social media platforms and in the media generally.
With invaluable experience in the field of Public Relations, the IGP has been able to guide the department on media friendly programmes The IGP has also honored deserving officers who have performed well. He received and commended Police Constable, Mary Yetunde Aina (aka Iron Abbey) for winning the World Boxing Foundation (WBF) International Super Bantamweight Title Belt at the International Championship Bout against United Kingdom’s Laura Pain on Friday February 18, 2022.
The Way Forward
The Nigeria Police are the 10th largest in the world. The present leadership appear poised to re-strategize to improve the institutional capacity to deliver professional police service and protect the nation. The IGP has initiated the idea of an Environmental Scan of the Nigerian society in order to identify the factors and drivers of new crime trends and what future sophistication criminals may be employing in their operations.
This will present a scientific approach to policing. It is very much like a Structural Action Theory (SAT) which will give the Research and Planning Department the advantage of being able to predict crime trends and recommend possible counter measures to combat criminality in Nigeria. This will be a great legacy for the Police Force in their fight against crime, now and in future.
Nigerians are going through a lot on account of the insecurity in the country and many would be right to look up to the Nigeria Police for a secure and safe country. However, we need to stress that, security is no longer the work of security agents alone: it is a patriotic responsibility that we all must accept. Criminals enjoy the cooperation of some citizens, strangely so, in order to operate successfully: neighbors supply information to kidnappers; other forms of crimes require help from people.
In the same way, the Police require our support, understanding and cooperation to effectively fight crime. IGP Alkali has mustered the officers and men of the Force to a state of preparedness, accountability and commitment. The willingness of the Nigeria Police to fight criminals to a stand-still is no longer in doubt.
What the Police require now is more support from the citizens and the Federal Government. The Police hierarchy have always commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his support for the Police. Nevertheless, the Force still needs more funding to upgrade its Information and Computer Technology (ICT) department.
This will improve the cyber capacity of the Force and enable it to meet its current challenges and be better prepared for the future. From what we have seen of IGP Alkali Baba Usman, he has the drive, passion and determination to lead the men and women of the Force to achieve the nation’s dream of a strong police institution as enshrined in our constitution.
Culled from Vanguard