Transferring 6, 000 policemen out of Lagos?
A recent report that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu had planned to transfer 6,000 policemen out of Lagos as part of his restructuring of police operations in the unique state should not be taken lightly by stakeholders and political leaders because of the nature of Lagos as economic capital of the country and indeed the West Coast of Africa.
There should be no doubt about the volatility of the cosmopolitan city with its teeming population and beehive of economic and social activities that need to be protected at all times. Transferring 6000 policemen out of Lagos in one fell swoop is suspicious and inexplicable. And what is worse, details about the motive and the strength needed in the state have been sketchy. There should be more information about the reasons for carrying out this radical security measures.
That Lagos is under policed is not in doubt despite the high rate of criminality and social deviance, which makes any thought of reducing the number of policemen so curious except there is an immediate plan for replacement. Otherwise, it would be tantamount to exposing the citizens to danger. We are of the opinion that the risk assessment should be properly done before the order is implemented.
The IGP reportedly ordered immediate transfer of over 6,000 senior police officers and rank and file out of Lagos State as part of his plan to reinvigorate the Force in Lagos State amid escalating crime rate. In a signal dated May 2, 2019, Adamu instructed that the 1,001 officers should be warned and released to head to their new commands immediately.
But how could that be if the IGP does not inject new blood into the Lagos State police command? While officers from other state commands are already in Lagos to take over the offices vacated by the outgoing officers, there should be information about whether Lagos would receive a reciprocal number of policemen being posted out. Lagos cannot go below the level of policing presently on ground without endangering the citizens.
Insinuation that most of the policemen at issue have made the state their comfort zone and are running their personal businesses instead of policing as the basis for the transfers has been unsubstantiated. Don’t the police have a monitoring mechanism to check what their men do on daily basis to be able to call erring ones to order before they get entrenched?
Reports said the first phase of the transfer process had affected some 1, 001 senior police officers being moved out of the state. The ranks of those affected are Assistant Superintendent of Police, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Superintendent of Police and Chief Superintendent of Police. After this phase, another 5,000 rank and file would be transferred out of Lagos.
Accordingly, Zamfara State, which has been caught in mindless bloodletting, is billed to receive over 50 policemen from Lagos, which is the largest number. This is followed by Kebbi, 47 and Adamawa, 43. Other states would receive varying numbers of policemen with Delta State receiving the least number of three.
Even at that, these numbers being distributed to the states are minuscule considering the appalling level of insecurity in the country. There is need therefore for more police personnel to be deployed across the country.
Specifically, authorities in Abuja should be circumspect while looking at Lagos as just one state you can take police officers from in the name of suspicion of unethical practices by some officers. Looking at the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos, the population and what need to be protected, Lagos, obviously, needs more policemen. This is a city that most young school leavers troop to daily in search of jobs and opportunities. It is the most viable economy in the state. And the state government has invested heavily in security funds that have made the policing functional and more efficient in the state.
It is pertinent to ask how many do we actually need in Lagos to match the crime rate and volatility we noted earlier? It would amount to undermining security in parts of the country if policemen are irrationally withdrawn. The IGP should not stoke more crises.
Meanwhile, the long-term solution is in commitment to true federalism, which this newspaper harps on every week. It is gratifying that President Muhammadu Buhari has not only supported the expediency of restructuring the federation, he just received a report on police operations, which has reportedly recommended decentralisation of police operations in the country. That would enable each federating state to determine the number of policemen it requires to protect itself.
The issue of under-policing of the country has been recurrent, which is why there have been unrelenting calls for state police to fill the gap.
There have been consistencies in reports that there are barely 400, 000 policemen in the country. Almost on daily basis, policemen are killed and the vacuum created is hardly filled. Which was why the IGP the other day called for volunteers as police officers.
Again, not long ago, the police reportedly sent a proposal to President Buhari for approval to shore up their manpower by recruiting 155, 000 personnel in five years as part of measures to meet the United Nations standard. The extent to which this has been implemented is not clear.
There should be some national and elite consensus on the kind of policing the most populous nation in Africa needs. Since it has been established that we are under-policed, there is need to recruit more policemen who should be trained to be able to cope well with the emerging sophistication even in handling crime prevention and other security management challenges.
On the whole, the most significant solution the Buhari administration should not lose steam about is decentralisation of police operations in the country. The citizens of this country will respect the government of their country that will do away with the federal police force that has outlived its usefulness. That is what Lagos State, among others, can benefit from, in this regard. The New York City police department has been deliberately made to be more efficient even in global context, than the federal police in the United States. The New York City is to the United States what Lagos City is to Nigeria: both are economic capitals. New York City, (not the New York State) has benefited from the majesty of true federalism in the U.S. while Lagos has been suffering from the paralysis, which ‘political unitarism’ the military administrations foisted on the country since May 24, 1966 when Decree No.34 Unification Decree was foisted on the country. That is the reproach the nation wants President Buhari to remove now by supporting state and local government police operations – a presidential panel just recommended to him.
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