I Will Build Police Officers’ Capacity For Improved Performance –Arase

The Acting Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, in this interview with newsmen, spoke of his visions for the police and how he intends to reduce corruption in the force. Kazeem Akintunde was there for LEADERSHIP.

How do you intend to give hope to Nigerians that they will enjoy better policing under your watch?

I have come in a very defining moment in our national life. I know that the expectations are high. I have been in the system for quite some time too and in strategic positions in the force. In personnel, you first take a look at our personnel profile. We warehouse the best you can have in the system. But, what we have not been able to do over the years is for us to build on the capacity of our officers. So, one of the areas where I am very interested in is trying to delegate our needsassessments, look at areas that we need to concentrate on and give my officers purposeful training that will make them perform in those offices. Such departments may be administration, operations, investigations or intelligence. Whichever of those areas we look at, we should be able to develop the capacity of the officers to be able to develop on their statutory mandates.

The other area is public perception of the Nigerian police force. We have a negative public perception, whether rightly or wrongly. Perceptions, I must say, are often subjective. At the same time, there are certain things that members of the public would expect a policeman should do. They will not want a police officer to be corrupt; they will want him to be civil, polite, and to treat Nigerians with respect. Nigerians naturally expect the police to give them the needed respect since the tax payers’ money is invested on the police. They will demand a lot from you and at the same time, we will see how we can connect to the community.

What then are your expectations on the issue of applying intelligence in fighting crime?

I do not want a situation where people are detained unnecessarily. I expect that my policemen should be sufficiently trained enough to be able to gather evidential proofs about those cases.

Bank fraud is a ready example. There are cases where you can get records from the bank, corporate affairs. You assemble these things before you invite whosoever you think you have invited. That way, you limit the pre-trial detention period that suspects would have to spend in our facilities.

 Do you have enough policemen to police 170 million Nigerians and equipment to do the job effectively?

You can never have sufficient policemen to police 170 million Nigerians. People always talk about this United Nations ratio. Even that one, you can only situate it against societies that already have good technical platforms. The United Kingdom is an example. We do not have a technical platform. What people try to do now is visibility policing. You position your men in strategic points so you create that psychological reassurance that the society is being policed. In Abuja, for example, instead of dotting the streets with police officers, you can position them strategically so that anywhere you go, by the time you are driving from Shehu Shagari Way to the other junction, you see them by the way. It does not presuppose that you have sufficient manpower. No. there is no police organisation in the world that will ever say they have sufficient manpower. That is why community partnerships in policing is very important in internal security management. This is because, if you are able to win the confidence of the community, half of your job is done.

Is community partnership the same with community policing?

The nomenclature has been variously abused. People, especially the elite, use it when they want to rationalise what good policing and responsive policing is all about. We will make sure that we will do community policing. If you asked them to conceptualise it, they won’t be able to give you the answer. What he is talking about is why can’t you allow the people to police their security space? It can be likened to what was obtainable in pre-colonial days where groups such as age groups, masquerade groups etc were involved in some form of policing or the other. For example, If you reach one village and you tell them you want to get married, they would first carry out some form of profiling on you and your family. If they found out that you used to steal goats or found you wanting in certain aspects, they would quickly sound the alarm bell. The age group people also know deviants. It is like asking the people to be involved in internal security management.

In your maiden address, you spoke extensively about deploying technology in fighting crime. With the state of the economy, how do you intend to actualise that?

I will give you an example. I have done it before. I set up all the intelligence laboratories in the police force. The intelligence department has become moribund after about 38 years of the extraction of the NSA to form what you now know as the nucleus of the DSS. Since then, we have not been able to replace a department to drive policing through predictive concepts and it took us just about two years to redirect what intelligence was all about—crime analyses, ability to train the officers to know that they can always ascertain the trend and patterns of crime, crime mapping in their various states and commands. For instance, as I sit here, with the intelligence department that we set up two years ago, we can give you statistics of kidnap cases in the country in one week, month, weeks or in one year. We can give you statistics of manpower wastages and operational losses. We can geo-locate and tell you where crimes are prevalent? What are the typologies of crimes that are prevalent in those areas? All those things are things that can be done. And what do we do? Simple enough, when you talk about technology, you think about warehousing a big building like this with heavy machines. It is not so. It is about thinking outside the box. We decided to setup an intelligence lab. We got a server, computer systems, we trained the men, gave them phones and put them on Skype. So, all my information collectors in all the states of the federation, once they get information, they send it to me. It hits my intelligence lab and the analysts who are there start drawing the graphs and putting it in intelligible forms.

We all know that roadblocks are reoccurring decimals, how do you intend to address this?

I have already cleared them. I have dismantled them. I have set up a task force with 12 vehicles. I have deployed them. They are going to be in the six geo-political zones that are co-terminus to the ones that are being supervised by the various DIGs and all I have asked them to do is a very simple task. I pay your bill, give you money, give you a vehicle, fuel it, you go there. Wherever you see those roadblocks, remove it from the highway, note where it is and I will hold the Commissioner of Police and the Area Commander including the Divisional Police Officer responsible. Secondly, they ares upposed to go to the cells to see when those who are kept in the cells were arrested, on what offence and how long they have been there? Do they meet the prosecutoral standards of keeping those people in our facilities? Those are the things we have rolled out.

 You spoke about fighting corruption within the police, how would go about that?

It is very easy. When you talk about equipment, they are those things that touch the lives of a policeman. A policeman is corrupt because he is not very sure of the future. If he thinks that his future is not guaranteed, the tendency for him to be corrupt is very high. Don’t forget too that corruption can be something that is pathological. Once you are corrupt, if I put you where they distribute stationery, you will still steal it. So there are issues like that. So the areas I’m trying to talk about is those areas where we can touch the lives of our policemen, inspectors and the likes. We have the cooperative societies, we have set up a mortgage institution, we have a micro finance bank. In our works department, we have been able to attract the best brains we can get from the system. These are architects, quantity surveyors, civil engineers. Now, we have an investment department. Why can’t we pull our mortgage institutions and the cooperative and do direct labour stuff? We can build some houses like 2-bedroom apartment for our workforce where they won’t have to pay more than N2.5 million or N3 million.

So are we seeing an increase in Police salary?

Oh! Well, yes! Even my predecessors and a lot of us have been making cases about it. I have been in this police management close to five years now. We have always been articulating this issue that it is not enough. But, sometimes, when you make comparative studies, you take some African countries that are not as large as Lagos; you now say that the salary of those people is even bigger than ours. Well if you want to go further to situate it within the context of our institutions; you will see that our population is higher and the things we are taking care of are bigger.

 Is there any plan to stop a situation in which policemen have become domestic staff or personal bodyguards of politicians and others?

One of my friends told me that what we are doing now is to police the elites; we are not policing the security space. So I have already given directives that, as a stop gap measure, all civil commissioners in all states of the federation should not have more than two policemen.

As for the excess, we are pulling them out to form Judges Protection Section because we think that, with this tribunal cases that are going on, the judges require special protection. We have already given directives on this and I have asked the Commissioners of Police to immediately effect that. More so, a lot of them gave argument that that during the electioneering campaigns, they were scared that their opponents were going to do this and that. But now that it is all over, we are going to take a census of how many policemen we have out there. And we start pruning them. We will first start from the government houses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *