Worried by the recent report of the DIG Parry Osayande (rtd)-led Police Reform Committee, Nigerians find it difficult to reconcile between the committee’s terms of reference and the actual report.
One of the fundamental question has been: Of what importance and usefulness are recommendations of a retired Deputy Inspector-General of police in reforming a police force that he helped destroy?
How would such recommendations, proffered by the same actors that brought the police to its knees, be accepted by a government keen on genuine reform of the police force. Could they rectify now that which they failed woefully to do while in service?
It is a great challenge and a thing of concern to all well meaningful Nigerians that young and talented security experts that are to be consulted to proffer solution to the failure and battered image of the police in view of the current security challenges were not consulted but left in the hands of old men who only travelled abroad for the sake of estacodes, winning, partying and on medical ground to do so. It is quite unfortunate that Mr. President do not take certain things into consideration before constituting the committees.
The committee was to look into redeeming the image of the Police, reposition the organization like what is obtainable internationally to meet with the challenges on ground and to see how the Police Act could be reviewed and amended considering the fact that certain functions have been conceded to other agencies of government to achieve synergy and for effective performance.
If these terms were critically examined and followed strictly, the service will be rated high among her contemporaries internationally but the reverse is the case as the committee was only busy working towards a pre-determined outcome that would serve their interest.
Will it not amount to fighting corruption with corruption, should government implement such recommendations? If that is to be done, what will be the level of corruption which the Federal Government is fighting in the society?
If all the agencies referred notably The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Federal Road Safety Commission, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission are to be merged with the Police, will it make better the performance of the service and how can the IG of Police tackle or survive the level of corruption that will grossly increase in the service because pouring a new wine into an old bottle or mixing an old wine with new one will amount to the same problem in the Police which is yet to be solved.
The report of the committee does not show that the members really agreed to work together as one. The Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade, condemned the report in totality especially when it was recommended that his ministry should be scrapped. The minister responded by saying that the committee worked out of context by not following the terms of reference.
Parry Osanrinde who never rose to the position of IGP before retiring from the service cowed all the retired IGPs banking on his positions as Chairman of the Police Service Commission and his other contacts yet police pension fund fraud took place under his watch and he had no answer to it.
Perhaps, scrapping the Ministry of Police Affairs may not a ploy for him to have total control of the Police system in order to carry out his hidden agenda.
It is worthy of note that the committee served as a means of enriching certain persons who see the assignment given to them as a means of grabbing their national cake.
The fraudulent aspect of this assignment is that the money released for the people to travel to the state to seek public opinion on how to reform the Police was released but not utilized! How many persons among those that received the allowance really travelled? Some of the directors cooked up the report in their houses using members of their family to do so.
A case at hand is one Mrs. Elizabeth Lortium, an Assistant Director with the Ministry of Police Affairs with her team whom were to travel to states to seek public opinion but could not do so rather they stayed behind to prepare false report in their houses and submitted to the committee to deceive Nigerians.
In her case, her son, Anthony Lortium helped to compile the falsified report which she submitted. The question is: Who is fooling who and can this not be perceived to be another pension fraud saga? How can this help in solving the problem in the police?
The committee does not know agencies that were carved out of the Police because the members have a hidden agenda. For instance, the Federal Road Safety Corps was established by a decree in 1986 during the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida with Professor Wole Soyinka as the Corps Marshal.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) was established by Act of Parliament in 2002 to fight corruption under the regime of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps was established in 1967 as a voluntary organisation and became a full-fledged paramilitary and security agency of government through an Act of Parliament in 2003.
These bodies were not in any way affiliated to the Nigerian Police nor carved out of Police. So what claim is the report saying bodies that were carved out of the Police such as ICPC, FRSC and NSCDC should be merged with the Police?
The members are not ready to tell Nigerians the truth of what they mean because the aforementioned bodies cannot be said to be the headache of the police. All the said agencies have international affiliation and as such serve as autonomous bodies.
The Nigeria Police should ponder awhile, and have a rethink on how to take care of her internally generated problem and not by joining issues with other agencies. They should address their failure and apologise to Nigerians thereby seeking for forgiveness.
Okwudili Onyeke is of the Society for Good Governance