…Interacts with Rank &File, visits Police hospital, school
By Hassan Zaggi
Last week, on June 22, 2018, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, clocked two years in office. He assumed office on June 22, 2016.
The questions among many Nigerians are; since his assumption of office as the number one police officer in the country, has anything changed? Has crime and criminality reduced? Has impunity among the police officers in the country reduced? Has corruption which is either rightly or wrongly alleged to be synonymous to the Nigeria Police Force got worst or reduced?
While these questions can be responded differently by different people depending on the prism on which they are looking from, a considerable proportion of residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in an interview with The AUTHORITY believe that even though there are still some challenges here and there, however, some remarkable achievements have been recorded.
In marking the two years in office, the IGP did what many keen observers of the activities of the Nigeria Police Force over the years see as the unusual.
He visited the Police Secondary School, located just opposite the Force Headquarters and interacted with the students. He promised to refurbish some of the structures in the school and equip their library and laboratory with books and facilities.
The IGP, concerned by the health of men and officers of the Force, visited the Police Hospital owned by the FCT Command in Area I, Abuja. He donated drugs and equipments worth millions of naira to the facility and also promised that more projects will be executed in the hospital in the days ahead.
In an unusual manner, IGP Idris invited representatives of the inspectorate cadre and the rank and file from all the commands and formations across the country to Abuja for an interaction. This, according to findings, is the first of its kind in the history of the Nigeria Police Force. Two main issues dominated the interaction.
In a rare show of humility, IGP Idris appreciated the officers for their support and also discussed the lingering issues of delay in the payment of salaries as a result of the introduction of the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS).
Speaking, the IGP said: “I am exited this morning, this is two years since we assumed office. We thank God for all. Of very great importance is the support we have from you the police officers. This is because without the rank and file we are nothing. It is the police officers that make us who we are. I have served the police for close to 35 years now and I have a lot to be grateful to the Almighty God.
“I want to thank all of you for the support you have given to us. You are the main police officers, that is why I deem it very important to bring all cadre of officers from different commands of the country. This is because without this kind of occasion, it will be very difficult to reach all officers in the nooks and crannies of the country. I believe reaching out to you, we will be able to reach out to every police officer in the country.
“I want to thank all of you for doing your best for your country. I want to thank you for your commitment, loyalty and for service to humanity. So, we are here today to show appreciation to Almighty God.
“We also appreciate the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, for his support and backing. It enabled us do what is correct and right in our effort to ensure law and order in this country.”
Idris further said: “To police Nigeria is not an easy job that is why when you see me appreciating our officers, I do mean it from the bottom of my heart. I want to thank all our colleagues in various capacities in all nook and crannies of this country. In the forest, rivers and in every environment, you have police officers there.
“I want appreciate your support and call on you to continue to be your best to your country. When I wake up every morning and look at the situation report from all commands of the country, our police men are among the best. I want to thank all of you for your commitment and loyalty to your country and providing the best police service for this country.”
Speaking to the challenges faced since the introduction of the IPPIS, the IGP lamented that: “We have had issues of salary for a long time, that is why I have invited officials from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation to come and brief all of you.
“We have tried to address the challenges in relations of our salary and I felt having you from different commands, you will appreciate our efforts and also pass the massage to others when you get back to your commands.
“Nigerian Police is one of the largest civil service structure in the whole of Africa because we are more than 300,000.”
He explained that the IPPIS was first piloted in few commands before it was cascaded to other commands in the country.
“We started with few commands and extended to other commands, but now we want to ensure that every command is captured. I believe one of the best ways to address it is to bring somebody from the Accountant General of the Federation’s office to explain to us, so that when you have challenges, you know where to channel your challenge to.
“This is because your salary is your right and entitlement. I have been hearing of so many issues arising from the challenges some of you have in regards to salary and I have been telling our officers to be patient as we address the challenges that arise from the issues of salary.”
On his part, the representative of the Accountant General of Federation, Joshua Shegun Olufehinti, explained that so many challenges were responsible for the delay in payment of salaries for the officers around the country.
According to him, the IPPIS started capturing police officers in February 2016, with Kaduna and other few commands.
The exercise, he said, was staggered so that it will not affect the operation of the Nigeria Police Force. The exercise was completed in April 2017.
According to him: “As the process started, we generated IPPIS number and it was given to all police officers. When you don’t have that number, you know that your name is not on the payroll.
“We commenced with 8 commands and by the time we decided to include other commands and we did cleaning system and discovered that some accounts were duplicated and some who have changed their names in the bank and could not reflect it with the police records raised the challenge that led them not being able to receive their salaries.”
Other challenges, he explained, include the rank and file who are supposed to bear two names, but unfortunately, they bear three names in the bank.
Under payments salary
On shortage in payments, he said, the National Housing Fund is 2.5 per cent of basic salary, based on the law. However, according to him, “before now, what was being charged as housing fund was a meagre 400 or 500 naira. You can imagine someone who has been charged 400 naira is being charged 1,700 naira.
“The other thing is the issue of tax. The tax on the IPPIS platform is different from the one the officers are used to paying before. These are some of the challenges you hear of under payment.”
Police rank and file interviewed by our correspondent, at the end of the interaction expressed satisfaction and vowed to pass their information to their colleagues in their various commands and formations.
On the achievements recorded by the IGP in the area of reduction of crime and criminality, different respondents interviewed by our correspondents expressed mixed views on the achievements.
However, many Nigerians believe that it was in the time of IGP Idris that the war against notorious armed robbers, kidnappers and other related crimes became intense.
According to them, during the time of previous IGPs, notorious criminals like the popular Evans where terrorising and kidnapping Nigerians without any counter attack by the police.
However, they say, when IGP Idris came on board, the game changed and the reign and terror of notorious criminals like Henry Chibueze a.k.a. ‘Vampire’ was brought to an end on March 2, 2017.
Vampire died in a gun battle with the Operatives of the Force. Eight victims in his captivity were rescued while 6 members of his gang were arrested. Evans, the popular billionaire kidnapper was also picked up during the period under review.
Hundreds of kidnappers who kidnapped high profile Nigerians, especially in the Abuja-Kaduna highway, cattle rustlers and armed robbers were also arrested within the last two years in different parts of the country.
A civil servants in Abuja, Kasim Wole said: “The fight against cultism was intensified in the last two years leading to arrest of many cultists while many others discovered that the environment was dangerous for their operation and renounced their membership. For example, 68 cultists recently renounced their membership in Kogi State and quit crime.
“Also, as part of efforts by the police to end the recent upsurge in crisis, armed robber, cattle rustling and endless killings in some states of the country, the IGP redeployed special forces to Kafanchan, Abuja-Kaduna highway, Osun, Benue, Abia, Maiduguri, Taraba, Zamfara, Birningwari and many others.”
Even though, the country is still having some security challenges, especially the recent killings in Jos, Zamfara and other states, IGP Idris has done well in reducing the crime, as it could have been worse than that.
The IGP has also improved the image of the Force as corruption and impunity among the men and officers of the Force have reduced drastically because of the stringent measures put in place.