It was last year, 2017 that the World Internal Security and Police Index International, WISPI released a report that rated Nigeria as a country with the worst police force in the world. The report centered on the ability of the police to address internal security issues and the police of over 127 countries were assessed across these indices; capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes.
The Nigerian police force recorded an under performance of 0.255 in all the four domains.
It should be noted that the report was released by the International Police Science Association, IPSA, and the Institute for Economics and Peace, a nonprofit organisation that brings together experts, researchers and scholars concerned with security work from all over the world.
The Nigeria police was established in 1930 and has 36 commands spread across different states of the nation. The 36 commands are further grouped into 12 different zones which are controlled by 7 different administrative organs with over 2,000 police stations spread all over Nigeria for easy reach.
The force is saddled to enforce the law in Nigeria and are being paid with tax payers money. As at present, the force has a total number of 371,800 men and able bodied officers scattered among the various departments of the Nigerian Police. Although, the federal government has said in a recent report that it would increase number of the force officers to 650,000 and on last Monday, the news media were agog as President Buhari approved a new salary package for police officers in Nigeria.
While announcing the increase in salary package President Buhari affirmed that the increase in salary and allowances is expected to effect the performance index of the police and strengthen Nigeria’s internal security system. He stressed that the inability of the police in their constitutional role as the frontline force in the prevention of crime had led to military involvement in the maintenance of law and order throughout the country.
It is in view of this, that several teeths have been gnashing. Some are lampooning while some are praising the development. Policemen in Nigeria are known to be Goebbels and foremost corrupt public officers through the unnecessary twenty and fifty naira extortions on commoners through what is tagged as ‘check-point activities’, some will even call it ‘stop and search’. Most of this extortions occur at police roadblocks, ostensibly put in place to combat crime. These checkpoints are a lucrative venture for the police who routinely demand bribes from drivers and passengers alike. The top-level police officials also embezzle staggering sums of public funds meant to cover basic police operations.
But the undisputed truth is that the Nigerian police force is not the chill wind of corruption in this country. Corruption in Nigeria has been multifaceted of virtually all sectors be it big or small sector, it’s undeniably our biggest challenge. It is clear to every citizen that the level of corruption in the country is high. It’s found in every sector of the society from different personalities. As politicians are corrupt so as doctors, lawyers, journalists and other professionals are corrupt, there is every possibility of observing corrupt practices when critically examined. So, the harangue and rants popping up against the new salary structure of our policemen hammering on the allegations of their corrupt practices are nothing but idle and unfounded ones to ill talk their so much required advancement on salaries and welfare packages.
They need this.
I had earlier in 2017 after the saddening report of the Nigerian police force as the worst in the world had a tete-a-tete discussion with a cadet inspector whom I chose to conceal his nomenclature, he illuminated me several challenges they face.
From the many we deliberated on are; poor remuneration, how they live in a squalor while on duty – if you have been to a police barrack, you’ll understand the height of some of their problems in the force, the lack of respect they derive from the society. The lack of modern gadgets or proper technology suitable for the police in the twenty first century, how they suffer to fend themselves and their families especially if newly posted to another community, we talked on many more challenges as they pose to the force in its entirety.
Except something of this addendum in salary structure is done to as a matter of alacrity to tackle poor remuneration and living conditions of the personnel in the police force, there may never be an end to corruption and menace in the Force. The poor take-home package contributes directly to the alarming rate of corruption in the security organisation and rampant attack on and extortion of civilians by personnel.
A police constable, according to reports earns between N22, 000 and N27, 000, depending on his length of service and accommodation plan; a sergeant earns about N30, 000, after deductions of tax, accommodation allowance and others; while an inspector now earns at least N50, 000 monthly. As compared to what their colleagues in the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), Ghana and South Africa, earn, the Nigeria police do not earn salary but ‘survival stipend’.
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