By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
A former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Musiliu Smith, who is now the Chairman, Police Service Commission (PSC), has said that the decay in the Nigerian police system had reached the level that criminals and drug bandits give houses to serving policemen to compromise them.
He said this at a public hearing on a “Bill for an Act to repeal the Police Act CaP P19 Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and enact the Police Act, 2018”.
The public hearing was attended by the current IGP, Ibrahim Idris, in company of the police hierarchy, including other top government functionaries, and stakeholders, during which they made submission at the hearing conducted by Senate Committee on Police Affairs, led by Senator Tijani Kaura.
Smith said: “In Lagos State, a governor came into office. He didn’t like what he met on ground. He invited some of us to change what was on ground. That was what gave birth to Lagos State Police Trust Fund. We can’t tackle insecurity without this. Let us think of that. The annual yearly budget ritual can’t help. It will not take us anywhere. If you want a highly motivated Police Force, we should adequately fund it.
“Some policemen are given houses by criminals and hard drug bandits. That need to change. We should think of additional funding source for the police.”
The former Police boss also opposed plans by the Senate to expunge ‘Force’ from the name of the organisation and retain only ‘Nigeria Police’, saying that it must be done appropriately, in line with the provisions of the constitution.
According to him, since what is contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is “Nigeria Police Force”, and not ‘Nigeria Police’, it had become imperative for the National Assembly to first amend the Constitution before reflecting it in the bill; else, the name should be allowed as captured in the Constitution.
He, further, observed that the Police was poorly funded, a situation he said, was responsible for the poor performance of the institution in discharging its constitutional responsibility of maintaining law and order and protecting lives and property of citizens.
Smith, therefore, canvassed for better funding of the Police, stressing that the annual budgetary provisions for the Force was usually grossly inadequate, and would never allow the agency to carry out its duties diligently.
He said: “I have few observations. One is the name from Nigeria Police Force to Nigeria Police. If the name has to be changed, it has to be done constitutionally.
“We met a police when all the training schools were working. We met a police where you could not be promoted without writing an examination. We met a police where every policeman lived in the barracks.”
Similarly, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, yesterday, at the public hearing, vehemently opposed plans by the Senate to pass the bill seeking to make it compulsory for the apex legislative assembly to confirm the appointment of an IGP by the President.
He also opposed parts of the proposed Bill which would empower the Senate to remove the IGP whenever it deemed it necessary, saying that such provision was unnecessary and would politicize the Force.
This was the first time the IGP was appearing before any Senate Panel, since his refusal to appear before the Senate earlier in the year.
In the amendment bill, the Senate Committee is also proposing to reduce the number of Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) from seven to one; but Idris expressed opposition to the idea, saying that the reduction would make the job hectic for the IGP.
His words: “You can’t police a people without their consent. The provisions of the Bill are in consonance with the contents of the Criminal Justice System. The confirmation and removal of the IGP by the Senate is not necessary. It will politicize the Police Force. It should be expunged from the Bill. The tenure of the IGP of five years should be maintained.
“The appointment of the IGP, in consultation with Police Service Commission, is appropriate. There should not be any confirmation by the Senate. This is the desire and position of the Police Force. There should not be one DIG. There should be seven, as we have already. Having one will put too much pressure on the IGP. Having seven reduces the workload.”