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IGP’s rapid response to recent police killings

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[FILES] Police boss, Adamu Mohammed

The quick and firm reaction by the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to a number of extra-judicial killings by some of his officers is quite commendable. In a short period of three weeks, six persons, mostly youths, were shot dead by police men in circumstances that were most inexcusable. The I-G not only came to Lagos (earlier than planned) where most of the incidents occurred, he also paid a sympathy visit to one or two affected families.

Adamu condemned his men’s misuse of firearms to kill and maim the very citizens that they are equipped to protect and he warned that the line -supervising officers would be ‘held vicariously liable for lacking supervision and shall be similarly sanctioned’ for ‘incorrigible acts [that] deviate from accepted police culture and values’.

Not done, the I-G did not mince words in telling the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force that ‘any police personnel that insists on being incorrigible by engaging in abuse of his or her powers, or misuse …weapons with fatal outcomes and in utter disregard of statutory provisions will be arrested, investigated …and if found culpable, dismissed from service’ beside other possible punitive measures.

Mr. Adamu has, in words and action demonstrated not only professionalism, but the letters and spirit of the well-articulated provisions of the Vision, the Mission, the Motto, and the Code of Conduct and Professional Standards for Police Officers. For too long, the Nigeria Police has become an object of disdain in the mind of the citizens because of what many officers and men (and women) did or failed to do.

It is needless to restate the many unprofessional acts that have made the force seem more like an anti-people organization than one trained, equipped, and maintained for, in the wordings of their Code of Conduct, ‘the fundamental duties of … serving the community, safeguarding lives and property, protecting the innocent, keeping then peace and ensuring the rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice’. But nothing can be more outrageous and least tolerable than the willful killing of innocent citizens –young and old – by policemen who, in moments of insanity and for whatever reason, lose control of themselves and the discipline instilled by their professional training. Admittedly, we all suffer our moment of unbridled emotional outburst. But it is not without reason that the police and the military forces are described as the ‘disciplined forces’. They are trained in self-control and to respond to situations in a much more disciplined manner that the average citizens. We regret to say that our policemen generally, have not met this standard with the unhappy consequence that, instead of the people seeing the Police as their friend, as suggested by the motto of the Force, most Nigerians are distrustful of the police.  Of course, with a similar reaction by the object, there is a self-feeding circle of distrust and disdain between the police and the people they are meant to serve. Every one suffers and society is in a sort of disarray. This must stop.

There are enough rules of engagement within the Police Act and other documents that guide the functions, conduct and role of the police in the polity. The Vision Statement of the Nigeria Police Force commits the officers and men ‘to make Nigeria safe and more secure for economic development and growth; and to create a safe and secure environment for everyone living in Nigeria’. The Police Act states the general duties of the Police to include ‘protection of life and property’; that ‘police officers should never employ unnecessary force or violence …’; The mission statement of the organization includes ‘to build a people’s friendly Police Force that will respect and uphold the fundamental rights of all citizens’; the values espoused include ‘building a lasting trust in the police by members of the public’. The Code of Conduct demands among other things that ‘police officers shall take no action knowing it will violate the constitutional rights of any person’.

These laudable provisions have largely been breached too often by, in the appropriate words of Adamu, ‘some personnel who, in utter disregard of their professional training, international protocols, constitutional dictates Force policies and ethical standards…’.

Specifically, Adamu pledged on assumption of duty mid-January this year, to apply his ‘national and international policing leadership experience’ to his new role by providing ‘the highest possible level of professional and responsible leadership’ to the Force. In return, he demanded that his officers and men ‘abstain from conducts that will drag the Police into disrepute and put their career in jeopardy…’.  It seems that there are some who fail to heed admonition. However, if he sustains, without interference with dubious motives, the firmness with which he acts on the latest incidents, there is, on the one hand, reason to expect a progressively better police force.

On the other hand, the relevant authorities must do three things urgently. One, the process of recruitment into the force must be reviewed and refined to admit only the totally fit in mind and body, for police function and duty. Two, the officers and men must be continually re-trained in the best practices of policing in a modern and complex society. Three, the Federal Government, as the ‘parent body’ of the Nigeria Police must improve the conditions of service in all areas to motivate the personnel to be able to do their best as officers of the law.


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