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Ozubulu and archaic policing format, By Emmanuel Onwubiko

By News Express on 11/08/2017

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•Emmanuel Onwubiko
•Emmanuel Onwubiko

In recent history, the Nigeria Police has proven itself to be a weak force in terms of professionalism and capacity of the personnel to effectively combat crimes and enforce the law throughout Nigeria.

Few years back, the Nigeria Police, due to the archaic policing standards foisted on the country one of the most devastating threats to national security - and indeed the corporate existence of Nigeria - known as Boko Haram terrorism. It was the alleged extra-legal execution of a hitherto unknown quantity called Sheikh Mohamed Yusuf, while in police detention sometimes in 2009, under the then president Umaru Yar’Adua that the almost five-year-old terror bombing campaign started.

The extra-judicial killing of the ideological founder of the deadly Islamic sect, Boko Haram, precipitated the launching of full-blown violent armed attacks against public and private institutions by the Islamic extremists, which has so far accounted for over 30,000 lives of innocent Nigerians of divergent ethno-religious extractions.

In fact, in that incident, Mohammed Yusuf was captured alive by soldiers and handed over to the police in Maiduguri, Borno State. But, he was reportedly killed inside police detention, within 78 hours. He was shown even on the national television network news, alive and well in the custody of the Nigerian Army from where he was handed over alive to the police; only for the unprofessional Police Force to produce the body-bag of Mohammed Yusuf the next day or so. So you can now see how one carelessness of the police in Maiduguri has foisted on us a war that has claimed thousands of lives, some innocent ones included; as well as destruction of North-east. At a point, before the last administration chased them away and recovered over 90 per cent of the territories occupied by Boko Haram terrorists, these armed Islamists nearly dismembered Nigeria following the unprofessional handling of an ordinary law enforcement, such as detention of the suspected ideological founder of Boko Haram terror gang. 

Apart from cases of extra-legal executions of suspects in the custody of the police, which are documented by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, among others, the Nigeria Police lacks most  basic skills, facilities and 21st century compliant trainings necessary for proper, effective, efficient and comprehensive policing, to comply with global best practices.

To compound the institutional inefficiency of the police is the clear lack of up-to-date enabling laws on the strategic engagement of the police in modern-day crime prevention, detection and enforcement of laws. Scandalously, the extant law that made provisions for the organisation, discipline and power of the Nigeria Police Force, came into being during the colonial regime, on April 1, 1943. The British who gave us this archaic Police Act have constantly reviewed their policing manuals are working with up-to-date policing standards.

The question to ask is: Why is the Nigeria Police Force operating in the 21st century with operational template put in place in 1943?

Perhaps, the backwardness of the police in effectively combating criminality was displayed clearly in the attack at the Catholic Church in Ozubulu, Anambra State, in which their men were caught napping and scampering for excuses, as to why such a bloody crime happened in their presence. This is because the police arrived at the scene of the shooting clearly one hour after the shooters, who killed dozens of Nigerians, had disappeared. To even add salt to the injury, the police made no attempt to deploy modern techniques to secure the crime scene, nor to collect critical ingredients of forensic evidences from the scene of the crime. 

Is it that the police doesn't have tapes or even ropes to block off the crime scene from persons seen on video walking on top of the blood dripping down from the casualties?

The Commissioner of Police in Anambra State was overtly interested in dishing out rumours as the police’s preliminary report. It was clear from all of these that there was a deliberate attempt to hide away the obvious failure of both intelligence and security competence on the side of the police. The State governor also helped in spreading rumours. 

How can a nation have a policing institution without modern facilities and the trained manpower to scientifically embark on criminal investigations, using modern-day skills, techniques and infrastructures? Why do the police, even under the extant archaic Police Act, not have clearly enforceable response time from the time of a crime being actively committed to rapid arrival to effectively restore order? What are the duties, powers of the police, even under the archaic Crime Prevention manual or statute?

The earlier mentioned Police Act enacted in 1943 averred: “The police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged, and shall perform such military duties within or without Nigeria as may be required of them by, or under the authority of, this or any other Act.” 

As can be seen from their laxity at Ozubulu, the police failed woefully.

Another probing issue is why the police does not seem to be amenable to adapting to emerging policing standards, as practised in civilised climes, even when the heads of the different state and national branches of the police are frequently sponsored to attend seminars on crime prevention in such places as United Kingdom, United States of America and Germany? 

Not long ago, the Inspector-General of Police was seen travelling to meet with the Metropolitan Police of London, and few days back officers from MET Police were in Nigeria. Do the Nigerian Police officials visit United Kingdom on jamborees or official engagements?

What, then, is the function of the Training and Manpower Development Department of the Nigeria Police if, in the last five decades, the police have not upgraded its principles and practice of effective policing?

In the United Kingdom, the Metropolitan Police, which operates in London, has kept bridging the time within which the operatives respond to distress calls. The last time I checked, it was eight minutes.

Also, the Metropolitan Police have a practice of rapidly securing crime scenes and deploying modern techniques and skills to collect evidences to be forensically examined. As I write, the Metropolitan Police has even introduced electronic crime-mapping. The Metropolitan Police has introduced its first trial crime map, showing burglary, robbery and vehicle crime for the whole of London. The Met online crime-mapping project, which uses data up to the end of June this year, is an initiative launched by the former London Mayor, Boris Johnson. The crime mapping project uses Google Maps technology, combined with Met Police crime-data, highlighting London boroughs with above- or below-average crime rates, and comparing rates for different months and years.

Southwark scores worst on crime levels, which increased by more than 100 individual incidents, between May and June this year. Another four of London's 32 boroughs, including Westminster and Hackney, were above the overall average crime rate across the capital in June. Seven outlying boroughs, including Richmond, all saw below-average rates of crime for London in June. Users can zoom in on the map to see specific rates for their neighborhood, or search by postcode.

“The Mayor made crime-mapping a key manifesto commitment, and it is an integral part of our strategy to make London safer,” said Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for policing, adding:

“It is a proven technique for increasing public safety and putting extra-resources into crime hot-spots, where they are most needed.”

A Met spokesman noted that this version of the map is a test phase, and will be subject to a technical review.

“The software development will enhance the service that we currently provide regarding the number, rate and geographical location of defined crime types within the capital. The electronic crime maps will sit alongside the crime statistics that are published monthly on a ward, borough and pan-London basis.”

He said the initial version will be limited to burglary, robbery and vehicle crime data; and that the software will be enhanced before a formal launch in September.

Malthouse recalled that then Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, had “recently converted” to the crime mapping programme, following the work by the Mayor's office, consequently announcing a project to introduce maps for police forces around the country.

Police forces in Hampshire, Lancashire, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire are all conducting trials of their own crime maps. The government hopes the initiative will increase public confidence in the police and keep them more informed on local crime problems. 

The foregoing updates have worked well, as reported by The Guardian of London, August 15, 2008.

Why are officials of the police in Nigeria interested in the pecks of office, but care less about manpower development? What happens with all the facilities and vehicles donated by state governors? Why are violent crimes going up, even as national budgets for police and defence increase astronomically?

Why is the Nigeria Police Force bereft of discipline and professionalism which, as can be seen, were lacking in the way they responded to the massacre in Ozubulu? This ineptitude of the police must be uprooted for lives and property of Nigerian citizens to be secured, in line with the constitutional mandate. What is government without security? 

Source News Express

Posted 11/08/2017 10:05:46 PM


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