Osinbajo to IGP: End culture of impunity

VICE-PRESIDENT Yemi Osinbajo; Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle; some retired police officers and security experts; the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams; economic expert, Professor Pat Utomi and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have set agenda for the acting Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman, as he assumed duty on Wednesday. 

While decorating the acting IGP with his new rank on Wednesday, Vice-President Osinbajo charged him to professionalise the force and end the culture of impunity demonstrated by some of its elements. 

At a short ceremony at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the vice president spoke of the enormous challenges before the new police helmsman which, he observed, will test his mettle. Osinbajo stated: “IG, you are assuming office at a very turbulent time in the life of our people. There are multiple threats to law, order and public safety. The role of law enforcement and particularly that of the police force as primary agency charged with maintaining law and order has never been more important. 

“The police is our institution of first resort, the first line of defence against crime and anarchy and the first sign of the strength of the state. 

“Last year, Mr President signed the new Police Act, the first police reform legislation to be enacted in almost 50 years. The Act is the centrepiece of our commitment to reinventing the police as an institution that we can all be proud of. 

“The challenges before you are indeed onerous and will test your mettle. The organisation you are leading is one that is itself facing several challenges. 

“Your officers work still in extremely difficult conditions and some face the threat of physical harm by terrorists, hostile non-state actors while in the line of duty but they have lived up to expectations. 

“There is no question at all that there is a lot that needs to be done. There is a lot of work that needs to be done. Under your leadership, the police must now rebuild in some ways also the broken bridges of trust to the public and regain the confidence of the citizenry. 

“Under your leadership, the force must live up to all of the highest standards of professional conduct and compliance with the rule of law. It must significantly improve the welfare and working conditions of its officers while rapidly scaling on its forensic, logistical and operational capacities. 

“To meet today’s challenges, you must stamp out the excesses and abuses and the culture of impunity demonstrated by some elements of the force which provoke public outrage against institution. 

“In short, your mission is nothing less than the restoration of dignity and high repute of the policing professional and the continuous oiling of that machinery of the police force that enables it to be one that is respected by the populace and by the international community.” 

Speaking to correspondents after the decoration, acting IGP Baba assured that his administration will give priority to community policing to enhance security in the country. 

He promised to build on what he inherited from his predecessor saying, “You hope to see improvement on where my predecessor has left. I came in at a very challenging time. I know it. I recognise it and I will work on how to improve from where my predecessor has left. 

“I have been a member of the management team. We have tried to do our best, but it’s not enough. There is room for improvement.” 

Speaking after the ceremony, the acting IGP said the police will deploy fresh operational strategies, hoping that with the blessing of President Muhammadu Buhari, it will have more equipment He assured that the security situation in the country will improve through cooperation with other agencies. 

He stated: “Nigerians should expect improvement on the security situation. And Nigerians should also collaborate and cooperate with us. With all the inadequacies we have, we still require everybody to be part of policing in this country. 

“And that is why the emphasis on community policing will continue and the emphasis of collaborating with all other sister agencies will continue and we hope to have a better situation very soon.” 

On community policing, he said: “We will continue to practise it. My predecessor has left at the theoretical stage, we have started it but we have not gone far and, therefore, all the methods has been put in place and we are going to continue with it in collaboration with other stakeholders.” 

After his decoration, Baba assumed office immediately as he proceeded to the Force Headquarters where the outgone IGP, Mohammed Adamu, handed over the leadership to him He was driven into the premises of Louis Edet House at about 2.00 p.m. in a Toyota Prado SUV, inspected the quarter guards and subsequently went to the conference hall where the handing over was done. 

The acting IGP said he is aware of the tasks ahead and promised not to let the nation down, as he promised to lead a police that will treat the citizens with civility and hold their human rights sacred. In a brief remark, the former IGP, Mohammed Adamu, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for the opportunity given him to serve and promised his successor to always ready to offer his advice at any given time. 

Governor Matawalle, while congratulating Baba, tasked him to give attention to Zamfara, in view of the security challenges facing the state and the country at large. In a statement issued by the Director-General, Media and Publicity, Yusuf Idris Gusau, Matawalle said the appointment will inject new life, innovation and focus in the police, especially at these trying times of different forms of security challenges. 

Tasking the acting IGP, Iba Adams asked him to operate on the basis of justice, without any bias, asking him to see himself as the top police for the entire country. 

Speaking on telephone to Nigerian Tribune, Adams said the new police chief had a lot of challenges to confront with, though he expressed belief that Baba Usman will sail through the problems. 

Some retired police officers and security experts called on Baba to urgently tackle insurgency, terrorism and attacks on police formations. In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), they expressed hope that the new police boss will be able to surmount the challenges facing security in the country. Mr Chris Ezike, a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, said he had known Baba for a while as he described him as an articulate man, highly cerebral and friendly. 

“Uppermost shall be for him to stem the tide of coordinated attacks and assaults against police personnel and assets. 

“This must be done by him in the immediate in order to restore public confidence and re-energise the police force,” Ezike said. 

Mr Ibe Agharaya, another retired commissioner of police, asked Baba to ensure the force is equipped with logistics and technical aids for crime prevention and detection. He also called for an increase in well-trained manpower, stressing that without the facilities and trained manpower, nothing changes with regards to insecurity. 

Another retired commissioner of police, Mr Olayinka Balogun, while describing the choice of Baba as the best transition in the Force in a long while, said his ascendancy will not create undue premature mass retirement for any group of officers, now or later. 

A security expert, Mr Folorunsho Attah, described the new police boss as one not influenced by corruption, as he tasked Baba to bring his experiences to bear in the challenges facing the country. 

The Kaduna State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), called for support of Nigerians for Baba, irrespective of any differences to enable him to tackle the security challenges in the country. Chairman, Reverend Joseph Hayab, in a statement in Kaduna, also lauded the appointment and called on Nigerians to cooperate with him to attain the peace the country once enjoyed. 

Strengthen community policing, Utomi tasks Baba 

Founder, Centre for Value in Leadership, Professor Pat Utomi, asked the new IGP to strengthen local/community policing for policing to be efficient in the country. According to Utomi, the centralisation of policing where the IGP from Abuja dishes out orders to people in various parts of the country will not yield the desired results. 

For proper policing, he stressed that policemen should be recruited from communities where they are to police. On notions that local police are prone to be used by influential persons to intimidate their opponents, Utomi said such can be dealt with as a federal crime, as done in some developed countries. 

Advertise IGP position, Rotimi-Williams tells FG 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Ladi Rotimi-Williams, on Wednesday cast a pall on the prospect of Nigeria Police recording significant achievements under the leadership of the acting IGP. He said until the entire force is restructured, he is certain no presidential appointment, especially the North doing it back to back will work. 

He also called for the advertisement of the position, so that the most qualified and most suitable officer can emerge through a credible and transparent system. 

He said, “What is the cause of insecurity. It is clear, that insecurity is caused by corruption. The Nigeria Police has remained the way it is, for too long. We never restructured it. We should restructure the police first. I also may have to suggest that we advertise the post of IG and let the best person, get the job.”

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