| 14 December 2015
Nigeria's number one cop who is stuck in reactive, sleep-walking and kangaroo policing. Proactive policing is offensive to him, hence criminals in Nigeria are ahead of him and his good-for-nothing team! Now, listen Solomon, why are 160, 000 police still not on the frontline, but serving the Thief-Executives and Their-Excel-rogues? Arase is proud and boastful of having officers attending to the big men and women in Nigeria, who use them as mere house-helps and for all sorts of things as feeding VIPs' children, bathing them and taking them to and from schools with phlegms drooling down their nostrils!
Nigerians now have the rare opportunity to channel instances of malfeasance by officers and men of the Nigeria police force or queries via phone lines, SMS, WhatsApp, Blackberry Messenger (BBM), Emails, Facebook, Twitter and get feedback in real time.
As the aying goes: "In every twelve, there’s a Judas", so it is with the Nigeria Police and other organizations. The good news is that the Inspector General of police, Mr. Solomon Arase on 13th November, 2015, launched a Complaint Response Unit (CRU), where queries, complaints and concerns about unprofessional conducts of errant or unscrupulous officers and men of the Nigeria police can be channeled to, and be rest assured of a response in real time.
This multi-platform community-based complaint reporting mechanism promises to be interactive and will cut red tape involved in reaching out to the top hierarchy of the Nigeria police to report concerns or obtain specific information from them.
The Head of the Police Complaint Response Unit, CSP Yomi Shogunle says the CRU will ‘’bridge the gap between the police and citizens’’. According to Mr. Shogunle, every complaint will be assigned a computer generated tracking number, acknowledged, verified, investigated by the Unit and feedback offered.
The police have our commendation for this innovation. Nigerians appreciate the task they are encumbered with. We urge them to play by the rules and act as role models.
Matters Arising, Recommendations:
At the risk of pre-empting the workings of the Complaint Response Unit, we ask, beyond encouraging the public to make complaints, the Nigerian public will appreciate clarifications on what transpires, where there’s a conflict of interest, say a complaint is made against the boss of the Police Complaint Response Unit, will it be ethical for him to superintend or adjudicate in a matter where he is the accused?
Certainly, the appropriate thing to do here is to invite or channel the complaint to an independent ombudsman, possibly the Police Service Commission (PSC) which is empowered to inter alia, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over police officers and rank and file. It will also help if there are in-built processes for anonymity or protect the identity of the complainant, weeding out frivolous complaints and quick dispensation of justice given that justice delayed is justice denied.
In the spirit of repositioning the Nigeria Police to meet the challenges of the 21st century, it will do a lot of good if the Inspector General of police, all DIG’s, AIG’s, state commissioners of police and other senior police officers are ICT and social media savvy.
Firstly, open-source intelligence abound in the Social media and cyber world and can be gleaned with minimal effort. In January 2014, Social media played a critical role to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in arresting one William Holt, a wanted criminal.
Secondly, social media is increasingly popular and faster for information dissemination and will cut off bottlenecks in reaching top hierarchy. One recalls former IGP Mohammed Abubakar publicly made available, a phone number to reach him. More often than not when innocent folks are detained and extorted on trumped up charges in the State Police Command the DPO’s, CPs, are seldom aware of such. A Tweet to the DPO, CP would have exposed the rot under his nose and saved the situation.
It is high time the Nigeria Police Code of Conduct is also re-launched and with ongoing awareness. We earnestly hope the Complaint Response platform is sustainable and does not end up as a public relations stunt and a paper-tiger.
Since the critical goal of the Complaint Response initiative is to discourage unethical conduct and by extension punish culpable personnel, it follows that prevention is better than cure. We therefore, recommend that the police proactively weeds out bad eggs even from the point of recruitment into the force by carrying out stringent background checks on prospective enlistees into the police.
Establishing a nation-wide computerized national crime database accessible in real time will help in this regard.
Similarly, the police hierarchy must ensure that excellence, passion for the job is not sacrificed on the altar of godfatherism, cronyism during recruitment.
In light of this, we call the federal government and the National Assembly to take a step further and bring about a Whistleblowers Protection Act - a law that will protect insiders who opt to report misconduct, corruption within the police or any other organization. Such an Act will go a long way in fighting entrenched corruption, malfeasance beyond public view.
See Something, Say Something, Do Something
We urge Nigerians not to keep mute or look the other way when they witness an anomaly in the society or when their fundamental human right, that of their neighbor is trampled upon by uniform personnel or any individual no matter how highly placed.
God will not physically descend from heaven to instill decorum and perfection in our polity or sort out issues we can do ourselves. Don’t say: "E no concern me", it certainly does, either directly or indirectly!
Rather than being docile, feeling helpless, trolling and whining how Nigeria, the system is not working or how the Nigeria Police and its personnel are corrupt and unprofessional, you now have a choice, a platform to walk the talk, make a positive impact and change the status quo.
Let’s inculcate the culture of holding public officers accountable and responsible. Be the change you want and make your voice heard. As you know, an average camera phone, video pen recorders are veritable tools to record evidence, but you must do it discreetly.
No one to be above the law henceforth as in purposeful countries
In 2007, the then United Kingdom Home Office minister (equivalent to the minister of interior in Nigeria), one Liam Byrne was stopped, charged to court and fined £100 for talking on a mobile phone while driving. He also earned three penalty points on his driver’s license and subsequently apologized for his action.
Still in the United Kingdom, Hampshire Police Authority pleaded guilty and was fined after one of its vehicles was caught speeding at 48mph in a 30mph zone. Can this happen in Nigeria? Your guess is as good as mine. Well, it can happen in Nigeria henceforth if you and I want it to.
Let’s join hands and make Nigeria great again. We can do it, yes we can!
If you have a grouse, prima facie or substantiated unethical actions of any police officer, be it: illegal arrest and detention, bribery, abuse of authority, demand for sexual favours in exchange for leniency, corruption, extortion, brutality, torture, extra-judicial killing, harassment amongst others, or you need specific information from them, here are the 24/7 platforms you can use to do that:
SMS Only: 08057000003
Calls Only: 08057000001 or 08057000002
About the Author
Okereke, a security analyst and consultant is an ex-service man with extensive experience in the security sector.