Adetuyi: We need more than state police to cure security challenges
• Recruitment, Deployment Of 10,000 Policemen Not Enough
Retired Commissioner of Police and delegate, who represented the Police Service Commission at the 2014 National Conference in Abuja, Barr. Samuel Adetuyi, bares his mind to OLUWASEUN AKINGBOYE on the nation’s porous security situation, and proffers solutions to bring the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other sister agencies out of the woods.
What is your reading of the current security challenges?
I am not a prophet of doom, but we can see how things are going. If you draw a scale and you compare years ago to now, of course, you can analyse it and foretell what is likely going to happen in five years time. Things have continued in this negative direction because Nigerians and Nigerian leaders do not understand what security means.
But if they understand, then we can say they are not naïve. It just means they are wicked, callous and indifferent. Whether in the North or South and everywhere, they are being highly insensitive. Security is always work in progress. Therefore, it requires a dedicated, integrated and holistic approach.
Is it that the security architecture is not proportionate to the growing population?
The problem is that we are using strategies that cannot tackle the challenges we have now. That is the major problem. This is 21st century and currently, our strategy is human-focused. If there is a challenge somewhere, you carry policemen inside Hilux vehicle there. Then they stop people and start giving orders: ‘Everybody open your bag, you bring pants, shirts of people out.’ That can’t cope with 21st century security demands. Our leaders should know this, since they travel all over the world.
There is no Nigerian president, governor or legislator that has not travelled to the U.S., Britain or Germany. Have they ever seen a policeman standing on the road with his gun, ordering people to open their booths and bags for a search? No! It is the power of technology, technology-driven strategy that is is deployed in many countries not what we do here in Nigeria.
Take for instance the recent callous and dastardly killing of an innocent woman, the daughter of Pa Fasoranti. Now, the police are combing the bush. But what can they find? Absolutely nothing. The criminals are not idiots. They won’t kill somebody there and then wait there. They would have moved to another place.
So, Nigerian government should now focus on technology. Taking a few policemen in a Hilux van won’t get us anywhere. And the criminals know that the police don’t have the capacity. Unfortunately, I can’t expose the underbelly of the police or our security agents. That will be against our national security interest. But I can say a few things that will wake up the government from its slumber. In the absence of technological equipment, absolutely nothing can be done.It is not about police. I am not talking like this because I was a Policeman. No. Now I am a lawyer and highly concerned Nigerian.
The capacity of the police has been terribly diminished. So, what can they do?
Let me give another example. I was a Commissioner of Police in Kogi and Yobe States. Those two states were created almost 30 years ago, but the police there are still operating in temporary sites. Nigerian government has absolute contempt for the police. I don’t know if they have built another headquarters, but I know that in Lokoja, it is the old police station they just renovated that serves as the headquarters. I was in Damaturu as Commissioner, and the police were using SDP or NRC building as temporary site.
Is this how police operate in other countries? Let the Senate President and other principal National Assembly members tell the nation how many policemen are attached to them. Nigerians are hypocrites, and they like to have their cake and eat it.
The Vice President said more police and soldiers would be deployed to fight crime alongside aerial surveillance…
I can categorically say that that will not solve any problem. Are you going to line up the soldiers and police along the roadsides? If you take Sagamu to Benin, which is about 200kms, are you going to line the security agencies along these routes? And for how long?
With all due respect to the Vice President, I am sure that is not what he meant. I don’t think that is what he said. He wouldn’t have said that.
All over the world, the global best practices have moved away from analogue to deployment of hi-tech equipment. Combat helicopters that can fly as low as almost landing, and even if you shoot at them, it doesn’t affect them. That’s what we need. It will comb the bushes and everywhere. We also need customised vehicles and not Hilux vans, which are just for carrying personnel and sometimes body armour. What is its efficacy, and you ask them to go into the bush, that’s suicide. If we do that, we are asking people to go and commit suicide.
You mean the ongoing recruitment of 10,000 policemen cannot proffer immediate solution?
Those policemen are not fools. Self-preservation is the first law of nature. Government must not narrow its thinking to the human element of policing. Policing is a capital-intensive project. The Police Trust Fund was sent to Senate in 2008, but up till now, it has not become law. If we have police Trust Fund, money will be generated that will enable government put the police in their proper place.
Government alone cannot fund it.
I would have expected government to be more proactive in this regard. In the last five years, tell me one thing that government has done that can cage these criminals. Nothing. Do they see policemen in foreign countries asking for particulars, when there are technologies that can detect if you have particulars or not? If you don’t have, there is an automation that takes your information to a bank, targets your account and they remove your fine. By the time they do it twice or thrice, you will comply.
The Nigerian system encourages corruption. When criminals and offenders are caught, there is undue influence on the police, because the system allows it. But where you deploy automated equipment, where will corruption come from? That is why Nigerians boo this government about fighting corruption. How can you fight corruption? Corruption is like a dragon you can’t fight. You only create an environment that will make it impossible for corruption to thrive.
Even the use of helicopters won’t work…
I am a stranger to that type of arrangement, but I know that in other
climes, helicopters are deployed. Even in South Africa, a state like Ondo State, I am sure will have like 10 to 20 helicopters. Combat helicopters that are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, and not personnel carriers. It is about government taking the right measure and looking at security from a holistic point of view, a sort of integrated action, and not just employing 10,000 policemen. That is just a tiny version of what security is all about, every action must join with the other.It is like building a house. Then you have a formidable force that will keep criminals off. And when people are employed and injustice is reduced to the barest minimum, crime will also reduce. Government must create capacity for the police, move from analogue to digital.
All government activities must be technology-driven. That’s what can help to tackle all the challenges we are facing. These criminals are not seriously bad people, but when they are pushed to the wall, they try to find other means.
Ondo State Government recently organised two security summits. Some said they were mere jamborees…
Let me not say it was a mere jamboree. I was part of it. I was invited as chairman of a session. No knowledge is a waste. People were going to talk about security. But personally, my worry is that you don’t discuss security strategies in the public. Have you ever heard of USA, Britain, France and Germany calling a security summit and people would come to discuss it in the open? Criminals will also be inside the hall and be listening. Security is a very serious business. It is a business of experts, and not pseudo experts as we have in Nigeria today.
How about the new prospect for state police and community policing?
Let me give you an example. After the unfortunate incident of the woman that was recently killed, they shouted again that we must have state police. They argued that, with state police, Governors could give instructions to commissioners of police. They lamented that under the present system, governors cannot give instructions to commissioners. People heard that and went out with that. But I know and can say that it is false.
As commissioner of police, I worked with four governors. One of them is dead, but three are still alive. They can find out from them whether they gave instruction to a commissioner of police and he refused. Section 4 of the Police Act gives the general duties of the police. So, if a governor gives instruction to the CP in respect of those things contained in Section 4, how can a policeman say he won’t carry it out?
But the only time you have conflict, and I am telling you from experience, is when a governor wants the commissioner to do something that is not in tandem with Section 4 of the Police Act. I had an issue with a governor in Kogi State over legislative quarters. The governor was livid because what he asked me to do was not in tandem with the Police Act. It was later I learnt that it was what I recommended they implemented, because the law is clear.
I challenge any governor to a public debate over this issue of governors’ inability to give instructions to their Commissioners of police or that the commissioners of police don’t take instructions from governors. I am not against the establishment of state police, but I am of the opinion that creating it by fiat without purging ourselves of the criminal neglect of police, the impunity of our leaders, the general attitude of members of the public and of course the lethargy, lack of commitment and professionalism that has gradually crept into the police, the effort may boomerang.
I want it to be on record that some ardent supporters would be the first set of victims. You can mark my words. I have not seen anything wrong with a commissioner of police clearing instructions with the Inspector-General of Police before carrying out such orders. You will agree that it is important for an IGP to be abreast of actions being taken by policemen under him. That’s why he is in charge. And if the instructions need to be varied in the interest of carrying out his functions, as contained in Section 4 of the Police Act without interfering with the fundamental human rights of others, and in the interest of justice, then why not?
You must appreciate that a commissioner of police is a sufficiently senior and experienced officer, capable of exercising the necessary discretion in this regard. If his actions open him up to a criminal, civil or professional action, of course, that’s his cup of tea. But to generalise that commissioners of police are not answerable to their governors is unfair to the police.
I believe that state police is a feature of Federalism. So, I am all for the idea. But it is not state police per se that will cure our security challenges. The first thing is for us to reposition the police to such an extent that they have capacity to deal with all security challenges. What is community policing? It is just use of words. It is nothing more than the partnership between the police and the community.
Community policing has always been with us.
When we were young, if somebody came to our town, they took him/her to the traditional ruler. The person would stay with whom they know, while they gathered information about his/her mission. That is community policing. If somebody goes out of town and then returns with an expensive car, nobody would enter the car. First, they would report him to higher authorities. That is community policing. It is not a magic wand; there must be collaboration. But it cannot happen, when the police are not behaving properly.
What about the discipline and welfare of personnel?
I was a policeman for 35 years. There are some things policemen are doing now that are unprofessional, obscene and dirty, but you can’t blame them. If you blame police for what they are doing, you are being uncharitable, because to whom much is given, much is
expected. The converse should also be true. To whom much is expected, much should be given.
I was the Divisional Crime Officer here in A Division in1981. I can tell you that the table I used in 1981 is still being used there. It is not about police not working. If police will work, they must be enabled to do so. The era of stop-and-search method should have gone away with colonial masters, when maybe in the whole of Akure; there were only 100 cars. How many cars are you going to search, if you stand along Benin/Sagamu Expressway? One of the major reasons of crime increase is injustice in the country.
This is an unjust country. Justice and peace go together, they are like Siamese twins. But where you treat equals unequally and treat unequal people equally, that is injustice. This is what we see everywhere, and people are very angry. As a commissioner of police, after 35 years service, my gratuity was N4m. Go and ask what the gratuity of a Federal permanent secretary is. Is his status higher than mine?
If you say you are educated, I am also educated. I have a first degree and a Masters degree. Now, I am a lawyer. So, what should make them have a higher entitlement than me? A permanent secretary has just a ministry. As a commissioner of police, I had to superintend over a whole state. So, it is injustice.
Now, look at our policemen, they are on PENCOM, the new retirement scheme. The DSS is not on PENCOM, the army is not on PENCOM, but all of us as security agents have served the Federal Government. Is that not injustice? There is so much injustice in the land.Let’s for a moment look at the appointment of ministers. I don’t see any government appointing a Minister of Defence outside the military. Why then must Minister of Interior also be a military officer? Is it that you cannot get a minister from Police, Immigration or Customs? It is just contempt with which these organisations, especially the police is held.
And of course, there is the issue of unemployment. Sometimes, I marvel at the naivety of some of our leaders. A governor would say I would create job within 100 days in office. That is a governor; a public office holder! Job creation belongs to the private sector. What a governor needs to do is to create an enabling environment for business and the economy to thrive, not creating jobs.
What is your take on End SARS campaign?
People have always talked about SARS. Remove SARS and put the legislators as SARS officers. When SARS was created in 1989, I was an Assistant commissioner of police in the Force CID. I know and remember SARS’ origin. It was when Anini and co were terrorising people and crime was at its peak. They assembled bold officers who could confront them. It may not be sufficient then, but at least we saw some benefits. Can we see the same thing now?
I left the force 13 years ago. So, I don’t know what it is now, but with what we are seeing on the road, their vehicles and everything, I don’t think it is the same idea as it was in 1989. So again, it all boils down to government creating a situation that makes them to be above the behaviour they are exhibiting now. I am pissed when I see them. I try to distance myself from them, because I am not happy with what they are doing.
However, it is not totally their fault. If you like, remove the set of people there and put another one. I can assure you, it will be worse than what we have now. The first thing government must do is to create capacity. Put in place things that will make it impossible for them to misbehave. In other countries, in SARS’ offices, there are cameras that record officers’ behaviours.
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