Legal Nigeria

Order to withdraw police from private duties mere rhetoric, experts say

IGP Usman Alkali Baba. Photo/TWITTER/POLICENG

Despite repeated order by previous Inspectors General of Police (IGP) for the withdrawal of policemen attached to private citizens and businessmen, and echoing of same by the current IGP, Usman Baba Alkali, The Guardian findings have revealed that hundreds of policemen are still blaring sirens, escorting several billionaires and other high networth individuals in the country.

Investigation revealed that many mobile policemen are still attached to popular music stars, top comedians, real estate moguls, top bankers, industrialists, expatriates, social media influencers, foreign business owners and politicians among others.

Some security experts have expressed worry, saying the trend was responsible for the shortage of personnel to police the larger society. They believe that the development is responsible for rising insecurity across the country and the seemingly inability of the police to check crime. According to former Department of State Services (DSS) boss, Dennis Amachree, the order for the withdrawal of Mobile Police Officers (MOPOL’s) attached to high networth individuals has remained an albatross for police top brass. The simple fact, he noted, is that those VIPs need protection, which they are ready to pay for.

“The way forward is for the Nigeria Police to shift that responsibility to private executive protection officers. Get them armed as it is in South Africa. The IGP is not living up to his words, as no police has been withdrawn from private individuals. Withdraw these policemen and deploy them to protect the general public. A secure public is good for both VIPs and the common man. Police should shift that responsibility to private security,” he suggested.

Security consultant, Mr. Frank Oshanugor, recalled that previous IGPs were not able to implement the order. According to him, Nigerian elites and moneybags compromise the system.

He said: “Policemen are still attached to VIPs and money bags because they have the IGP in their pockets. Many of the VIPs and moneybags have links to the presidency and can always rely on such links to manipulate the IGP and his order. No such order from IGP will work in Nigeria until the police constitutionally becomes independent of whoever is the President. Let us not forget that such a withdrawal order had been given several times in the past, but it never worked because of Presidential interference.

“There is certainly nothing we can do about the alarming number of police personnel attached to private properties and individuals until the Police become constitutionally independent with no interference from higher quarters. The political leadership of Nigeria is the problem because they are the ones interfering with police activities.

“IGP is not living up to expectation and cannot live up to expectation regarding withdrawal of policemen from private properties. Such private properties belong to politicians and other moneybags who have connections with the Presidency one way or the other.

“It will take just one call from the presidency for the IGP to reverse his decision in that respect. Like I earlier said, the IGP will continue to be controlled by the presidency until there is constitutional provision for the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to be independent. The IGP will never have 100 per cent power to enforce his orders in a situation where his allegiance is to the president, who appointed him and not the constitution of the country”.null

According to the publisher of Crimeworld magazine and security expert, Albert Uba, the order for the withdrawal of police officers from private individuals amounts to mere rhetoric. “The issue didn’t start today. Several other IGP’s had given similar orders without giving it a bite. What we are witnessing is people merely playing the ostrich and dancing to the gallery. Policemen will continue to be attached to VIPs because of the endemic corruption in the system, manifesting in the mindset of “let me grab all I can while it lasts”, which is a Nigerian leadership syndrome.

“In developed nations where we have more than enough policemen guarding the citizenry, you don’t find policemen attached to individuals or organisations; it is the job of the private security and that is why there is clamour to get private security operatives empowered and equipped for that purpose.”

Uba explained that while it may be too premature to start assessing and or judging IGP Alkali Usman Baba for whatever pronouncements he has made, the society would always get the kind of police it desires. The Nigeria police, he stressed, did not emerge out of the blues, but a product of the Nigerian society. He suggested more time for the police boss, to know ‘if he too will be a stooge in the hands of his employer’.

Former Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, before his retirement had ordered the withdrawal of all policemen attached to all VIPs across the nation with immediate effect. Adamu’s directive was contained in a wireless message sent virtually to zonal AIGs and command CPs with signal number DTO 210900/19/2020.

The signal was copied to all police formations in Lagos, Benin, Enugu, Makurdi, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Osogbo, Sokoto, Umuahia, Abeokuta, Akure, Awka, Ibadan, Calabar, Kano, Yola, Asaba and Ebonyi, with the IGP warning that any commander who violates this order will face the consequences.

However, Adamu said those attached to government houses, the Senate President and the Speaker House of Representatives, should not be withdrawn.null

Adamu’s order was taken with a pinch of salt, as many businessmen, bankers and moneybags in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and many other major cities still went around with multiple police escorts.

The new IGP, Baba, on assumption of office also ordered suspension of police personnel from escorting VIPs in the five South East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers.

A wireless signal he caused to be issued, directed police commissioners in the states affected to suspend personnel that escort VIPs in the six eastern states until security situation improves in the affected states. The signal noted that the suspension of the police personnel “is sequel to the incessant attacks on policemen/snatching of arms and ammunition by the proscribed IPOB/ESN elements in the affected states”.

The directive, which was contained in a police wireless message, followed alleged attacks on policemen by suspected members of the proscribed IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network ESN.

But when former special adviser to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak was killed, the same police said he did not allow the police to escort him.

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