Everyone have one story or another to tell about our Police Force and the stories as expected comes with few people on the side of Police while majority will be against her. This is one institution that is very crucial to our daily existence which greater majority will swear never to have anything to do with but whenever there are breaches, we must face them. This series will therefore attempt to discuss the core issues bedeviling the Police Force. This is not meant to deride the Force but it will reinforce her strength and identify her constraints. It is always easy to misjudge and misinterpret the police but should the police shoulder all the blames? The negative publicity heaped on police may not be her making after all but a creation of a system that has bastardized the name, police. The series will point to various directions where we all share the blames. The police Institution herself are not guiltless like some other institutions of government but easily chastised mostly on variables that are way above them. Do we need Police? Yes, we do. This was confirmed by an opinion poll conducted in the Nigeria Community Policing Forum (NCPF), an online platform of about 400 participants. This work as much as possible will x-ray the following and where possible, proffer solutions. We need police but we need functional, responsible and responsive Police. The areas of concentration are:
2. Training schools and Colleges
3. Training and retraining of Officers
4. Funding of the Force.
The writer is not really interested on who recruits or have right to recruit or select or place between the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) or the Police Service Commission (PSC). Recruitments into the Force have been a subject of discussion with accusations of bribery and all sorts. Recruitment into the Force is the first step of becoming a policeman and I will limit it to only recruitments of Constables.
When advertisement for recruitment is out, thousands of young people struggle to get recruited starting from being shortlisted to appear for physical screening where things like physical appearance, height, age, certificates are scrutinized prior written examination. At the physical assessments, some applicant will succeed while those that fail to meet up are disqualified from proceeding to the next level. The following classes of young people show interest in these categories:
a. Those that really desire to be policemen for the love of security and as a profession with no criminal intent;
b. Those that has no interest but being politically pushed into police and seen to have created jobs;
c. Those with criminal intents that want to enter to perpetuate crimes;
d. Those being ‘’forced” into the Force by serving officers and top government officials under Family and Friends (F and F list).
CHARACTERISTICS OF EACH ABOVE
1. They are real, willing, ready and interested Nigerians;
2. Ready to abide by rules and make necessary sacrifices;
3. Has no godfather;
4. No criminal intent;
5. Always submissive, obedient and dedicated in training and after;
6. Meet all the recruitment criteria;
7. Has no money to bribe or buy recruitment but often molested (females) in the process;
8. Usually good ambassadors of the Force.
9. They are painfully made to part with money to get selected either directly or proxy
10. Majority often painfully lose out from making the final list
1. They are the face of politicians;
2. Often used as thugs during elections and enlistment is reward system;
3. The politicians ‘’ handle’’ the process from beginning to end;
4. Have committed one form of offence or another in the past;
5. Backbone and insurance for politicians in addition to those that facilitated the recruitment;
6. They give troubles at Training;
7. Antenna for their political godfathers in the Force;
8. They hardly meet all criteria for recruitment;
9. Majority can hardly communicate or learn during training and so untrainable;
10. Weak characters;
11. Agents of accidental discharges;
12. Part of the group the successive IGPs will be cautioning to be professional or shown the way out.
1. They are core criminals and were undetected during recruitment;
2. Often sponsored by criminal gangs to be informants;
3. They somehow obey rules to protect their identities;
4. They don’t have original intention of making career in police;
5. Commit crimes while in service and engages in various criminal activities
1. They are the untouchables at training and above established laws;
2. Candidates of top officers, governors, prominent citizens, traditional rulers, NASS etc;
3. Unprepared for policing but was coerced;
4. List of members of Family and Friends;
5. Often doesn’t comply with recruitment criteria like age, weight, certificates, height;
6. Reports late for Training but before passing out;
7. Rule breakers at Training;
8. Agents of accidental discharges;
9. Committee of big boys and girls at Training and Training Team know them and are careful;
10. They belong to favored list and group;
11. Majority never sat for the exam;
12. They intimidate and assault people boasting that nothing will happen;
The above paints the tragic picture of police recruitment in the Force. During the last exercise reports had it that in one of the state capitals, a retired Chief Superintendent of Police was begging and ready to part with money for his under-height daughter to pass the physical screening. He was however reminded that the Force was no longer what it used to be when he was in service. He was shocked that his colleagues could turn him down. Another man that claimed to be 26 years old was unveiled and embarrassed when a quick certificate check was conducted through his WASC result and discovered that he was 41 years after all. He vowed to enter the Force anyhow through his unnamed contact. I can’t confirm if he did. The 2019 recruitment examination was almost heavily compromised by local invigilators sent to assist in conducting the examination by selling answers obtained from other states without knowing it was same question with alternate numbering for different states.
The Police Training School Commandants cannot deny the stress they are put through by most of these unqualified and highly connected recruits. They flaunt their connection power and dare some of the instructors who also want to take advantage of such connections. Unfortunately, it is without doubts that the Family and Friends negate the principles of Federal Character Commission because anything goes. Police recruitment is akin to annual oil well to some people that never meant well for our collective security goodwill.
It is often an eye sore to see some recruits that have no business to be at the Training Schools and colleges. Some are visibly old and cannot put in reasonable years before age catches up on them. Some are just overweight and some Lilliputians and make mockery of the Force. Some are complete dunce and can hardly communicate and one begin to wonder how these elements found their ways into the Force. Regrettably, the Commandants are handicapped and voiceless and must accept and subsequently train whoever that’s sent to them. A report had it that sometime in 2017, one of the policemen manning the main access of Police Academy Wudil Kano could not communicate in English language just for an enquiry on how the visitors could get to the Commandant’s Office. His colleague promptly came to his rescue by apologizing and doing the needful. Recent publication had it that some officers at the Police stations could hardly take statements or make good report that could aid in prosecution. How can some of these daft learn and understand rules of civilian engagements or use of firearms? This same class of accidental policemen will easily pick offence when you remind them that you know your rights or that what they are doing are wrong.
SOME REPORTED CASES OF RECRUITMENT SCANDALS
In 2013, the then Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar shocked the world when he confirmed dismissal of about 700 police officers involved in recruitment scandals and other offences. It was a commendable and bold acknowledgement of rot in the system in the entire recruitment process spanning over a period. These dismissed officers surely were not alone in the racketing but must have influential civilians in various capacities who aided and abetted them. The beneficiaries of that scam may still be in Force exhibiting incompetence and wickedness while adorning uniforms on their adulterated bodies.
In September and October 2019, what appeared like a beer parlor debate in hush voices concerning the manipulation of numbers in the recruitment of 10,000 Constables was confirmed when affected states raised alarm on the lopsidedness of the exercise. Two states in Northcentral and Northwest with top citizens took a chunk of over 1100 slots out of 10,000 instead of a combined legitimate number of about 400 slots. It was reported that these top citizens were not privy to that as it was executed by overzealous officers and sycophants seeking attention and recognition. This mess was further extended when information from Police Service Commission said that majority in the final controversial list neither filled application Forms nor sat for the examination whereas those that fulfilled these recruitment rituals and performed well were edged out. If these revelations were true, it cannot take Nigeria and Police Force far.
Saharareporters carried a story in October 2019 on how Senior Officers in Delta State bribed Local Government officials to forge documents to influence recruitment in favor of their candidates. That process involves identifying States and Local governments where its citizens are not interested in joining the Force and usually underfill thier quota. Applicants from other states bearing likely surname will go and swear court affidavit claiming to be indigenes of the Local government with a view to getting advantage of being selected. It is not only in Delta because our findings revealed that same ungodly act took place in so many other states especially Southsouth. its same sad story in most institutions of Federal and State governments. This is clearly exaltation of crime and corruption.
A few ladies have their stories of being molested and deceived into sexual submission especially on eve of examination when they arrive cities from hinterlands. Some useless civilians and a handful of serving and retired unprofessional Policemen will emerge with fake and unfulfilled stories and promises of helping these innocent species to secure a place in the final list. Some were meant to even pay various amounts after the sex deal yet no success. The victims cannot cry loud; cannot shout; and cannot recover their money because a fugitive and undesirable officer was involved. That’s the tragedy of unguarded system that will leave bitter tastes in the mouth of these citizens with unfulfilled dreams of becoming cops.
With the above scenario, how can we have a decent Force? How can bribery at all points and places stop? Can these victims and overpampered cops who found their ways into the Force forget their own stories? Can’t we see the root of inefficiency, accidental discharges, bribery, shoddy investigations, job apathy, demotivation in the Force? Tell me how good equipment, better funding and other things can change the psyche of these ones? Just to say that provision of all needed tools may not after all have the much-desired positive impacts.
Faulty recruitment is the fundamental challenge of Nigeria Police. If the foundation be weak, what can the righteous (citizens) do? Get recruitment right and get the Institution of Police Force right. Maybe, this work could lead Nigeria Police Force into digging into the recruitment backgrounds of the cops denting or that dented her good image now or in the past. The circumstances of their recruitment will shock the Force and Nigerians thereby lending credence to this piece.
The first step towards building a proud, community friendly, human rights driven and responsible police force must start from the recruitment process. Police recruitment is garbage in garbage out. Those that compromise recruitment processes must surely be at the receiving end in one way or another and that include those that collect bribes to foist unqualified persons and criminals leaving out ready, capable and able men and women that are voiceless and moneyless. Until we remove greed, politics, family and friend (godfatherism) in the recruitment processes, we can never get policing right in Nigeria. A few recruitment tips:
1. Remove the entire recruitment process from Police Service Commission and Nigeria Police Force.
2. The Presidency through the Ministry of Police Affairs should annually appoint credible Consultants to conduct the entire process closely supervised by representatives of the Presidency. No staff of the mentioned Ministry will be part of the Team and the Representatives must also be monitored. However, the Consultants must never be retired Police Officers.
3. The system must abolish Family and Friends list and allow merit to thrive.
4. Final list will be sent to the NPF and PSC from the Presidency immediately after approval meeting.
5. The Consultants that must be paid well, would be held accountable if anything goes wrong.
Its pertinent to say that the responsibility of ensuring a formidable Force is a collective one. At this point, let us not bother about those that entered through sick processes. Let us look forward to brand-new police. The new ones will be change agents. They will be complemented by the existing trustworthy cops and the repented ones already in service. That will make policing easier and entrench the culture of policing that will radiate and positively impact the society as a first step towards redeeming the image of Nigeria Police Force and the dignity of Policing. No sincere serving or retired officer of any rank can deny the recruitment stinks in the Nigeria Police Force. “I have done my part……do your part”
Watch out for the next series on the Police Training Schools and Colleges as a Compelling Tool towards repositioning Nigeria Police Force.
Mazi Agodi KANU is an author, writer and Security Consultant and writes from Lagos.
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