…as Journalists lament poor treatment
The Acting Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, has paid a maiden visit to the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters, and launched the Police’s Complaint Response Unit (CRU) as well as a state-of-the art hospital at the Nigeria Police Mobile Force 22 PMF, Ikeja, Lagos.
In his welcome remarks, he appealed to the public to cooperate with the police, avail them prompt and timely information, and urged Police officers to be transparent while dealing with the public.
“The new policing vision is about emplacing professionally competent, service-driven, and people-driven police that would support the agenda of the government in its efforts towards economic recovery and growth, as well as the social and political development of our country.
“We don’t want the actions of police officers reported on social media. You must show honesty and demonstrate to the public that you are men of integrity.
“Officers manning this unit were carefully selected; they are those with impeccable integrity and would be trained continually, including overseas training. We would improve the unit and make it functional,” he stated.
Egbetokun also approved the allocation and release of five patrol vehicles and two trucks from those parked at the Police College field to the Lagos State Police Command, one of which will be dedicated to the operations of the state CRU and others deployed to enhance the operational capacity of the Command in dealing with current and evolving crimes.
In his speech, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa, said the initiative was not meant to witch-hunt police officers, as they would also be duly protected and their rights fully asserted if their dignity is also violated or false and malicious information is passed against them by misguided members of the public in the line of official duty.
“The establishment of the center is a fulfillment of statutory provisions that is intended to enhance police accountability and engender professional police service delivery, rather than witch-hunt or unduly malign dutiful officers”.
Constitutional lawyer Femi Falana said police officers have no cause to fear, as he would also defend them pro bono if they are reported for frivolous reasons.
Also, former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, promised to replicate the same feat in Edo and Delta States, while founder of the Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr. Josephine Okei-Odumakin, promised to support the initiative in the area of training.
The CRU is a framework for promoting police-citizen accountability and a center for the receipt of complaints on police officers’ inadequacies, the coordination of immediate responses, the facilitation of investigations and disciplinary processes where necessary, and the rendering of feedback to citizens.
Unfortunately, despite the huge success of the IGP’s visit, journalists were kept waiting for hours before the IGP arrived. For good eight hours reporters from different media organisations that covered the visit, moving from the Headquarters, Lagos State Police Command to No 22 PMF, while commissioning projects, not a bottle of water they were served as refreshment to quench their thirst.
Journalists play a crucial role in providing information to the public. It’s also important for the authorities to respect the rights of journalists and not to treat them with disdain, ensure their safety while carrying out their duties.
Unfortunately too, this has become a habitual thing of the Lagos Police Command treating journalists shabbily when they attend their events. Such attitude could affect building cordial relationship.