From the first day he was named the Inspector General of Police by the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan in April 2015, Mr. Solomon Arase left no one in doubt about his commitment to re-engineer the Nigeria Police Force to be in tune with their counterparts in developed parts of the world.
With degrees in law and political science and having risen to the rank of DIG in charge of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, Arase understood the problems of the Force and has taken the bull by the horns.
It is no longer news that the general impression about the police before now was that it is the most corrupt institution in the country.
Wherever a policeman was seen or whatever he does was linked to corruption, but within a short time that Arase had been in the saddle, he has demonstrated uncommon commitment towards reducing corruption in the Force.
In fact, the IGP has a zero tolerance for corruption and this is being pursued concurrently with instilling discipline in the Force.
Today, every policeman, not matter how highly placed is conscious of the fact that if he is caught in the web of corruption, he will be sanctioned appropriately.
Another notable innovation the IGP has introduced to the police is his proposal to have all policemen bearing firearms in the performance of their official duties be subjected to psychological test and evaluation.
This is to ensure that they are mentally and emotionally fit to perform their duties.
As explained by the Force Public Relations Officer, Force Headquarters, the exercise is “aimed at eliminating cases of irregularities in handling of weapons by policemen, as well as protecting the public whom the police have the constitutional duty to serve, and not to continue killing innocent and law-abiding citizens.
According to the force spokesman,“the IGP disclosed that the central purpose of this exercise is to offer mental health recommendations that can help restore an officer to job fitness and deploy such policeman to appropriate section he/she is fit to work.”
He said Arase has, therefore, “directed all police medical doctors across the nation to conduct psychological test on all policemen bearing firearms in their respective Commands, every three months, noting that if any police officer has a psychological condition or impairment unattended, it will impact negatively on the overall performance of the Nigeria Police Force.”
This is a very commendable decision ever taken by an IGP. This is because, the menace of trigger-happy policemen killing innocent citizens across the country have dented the image of the Force in the eye of an average citizen.
These incidences happen every now and then and it has foisted a dent on the police.
Not long ago, the IGP barred policemen from detaining suspects more than 24 hours, stressing that appropriate due diligence should be conducted before arrest warrant was issued.
The civil society groups have had a running battle in the past with the police over the issue of detaining people for longer periods of time than required by law.
Besides, the police has been accused severally of maltreating suspects and subjecting them to inhuman conditions.
The IGP is not oblivious of the fact that the image of the Force has been soiled by erring policemen. Hence, while issuing the orders noted that “I sent out teams to all the zones and the report they have submitted to me is not encouraging.
The idea of arresting people and dumping them should no longer arise, this is too bad.
“We have stepped in to stop all observed anomalies, you should no longer detain anybody more than 24 hours.
“Before you invite anybody, ensure that you have investigated the issue and have with you concrete evidence before you invite or arrest anybody”.
Being a police officer who knows his onions, Arase took an unusual audacious decision banning policemen posted to provide security for top government officials from carrying their bags or converting themselves to domestic staff.
It is only in Nigeria that police officers are seen carrying handbags instead of protecting their people in their care.
Arase has finally put a seal on this unsavoury sight. “Henceforth, only government officials are entitled to police protection. You should no longer carry people’s bags, open their doors, man their gates or engage in any domestic chores for anybody.
“I have directed the commissioners’ in-charge of airports to arrest you if they see you dragging your pistol with boxes or bags of anybody.
“On no account should we see anybody on our highways wearing slippers or shabbily dressed. If we see you, we are going to arrest you.
“You have been given authority to arrest anybody who is blowing siren. It has been banned, but you must not carry horse whip, you must be civil.”
The welfare of the police has never before given the attention it is currently receiving under the leadership of Arase.
For many years, promotion in the force was concentrated on officers alone, but on coming into office, the IGP took it upon himself to ensure that men and artisans in the Force too have their due.
As the officers are being promoted, so are the rank and file also remembered.
Notably, the Traffic Warden who were relegated to the background and almost forgotten have been remembered by the Arase led Force.
Arase, had promised that in no less than a month, their promotion will be released.
The IGP is also looking into the issue of uniform for the police and given a standing order to those culpable of shabby dressing to desist or be shown the way out of the Force.
No longer will a policemen by seen wearing sleepers on uniform. This is now prologue.
Another initiative of the IGP is the floating of a Scholarship Foundation, which is also novel in the history of the Force in the country.
The scholarship scheme is not just for children of police officers, but it also caters for victims of police actions.
For example, recently, the IGP awarded scholarship to four children of Mrs. Comfort Udoh who was shot dead by Corporal Musefiu Aremu.
For those who are keen observers of the activities of the police, it is now evident that a new sheriff is in town and in deed a new era has beckoned.
Chinwe Ugwu, is an Enugu based socio Commentator.
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