• Sunday, May 26, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

ENDSARS: Police must rise up to its constitutional duties

Nigeria Police Force recruitment postponed by 10 days

The ease with which hoodlums recently vandalised and looted public and private properties including shops, malls and banks shortly after the alleged shootings of peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll gate exposed the lackadaisical attitude of the Nigerian Police to the discharge their constitutional responsibilities of protecting lives and properties of the citizens.

The police inaction obviously emboldened the mindless hoodlums and their collaborators to take advantage of the security lapse to cart away goods worth billions of Naira with dire consequences on the hapless owners most of whom are currently counting their losses with despair and confusion written all over their faces.

It is utterly irresponsible on the part of the police authorities to abdicate their constitutional duties at a time when the security of the nation was shaken to the marrow.

The ugly incident serves as a wakeup call on the Nigerian police to rise up to their responsibilities and restore the waning public confidence in the force.

Already, there are videos circulating in the social media with visuals of police and military officers taking part in looting of malls and warehouses where COVID-19 palliatives were stored. This is unacceptable and shameful and smacks of unpatriotism and mischief.

One thing we all took away from the recent ENDSARS protest was the urgent need to reform the Nigerian police in line with international practice. All over the world, there is a consensus that police should be made to have a human face and respect human rights in the discharge of its responsibilities. Bold and critical reforms in the Nigerian police force would enable the police to efficiently perform its constitutional responsibilities and do away with such acts that have overtime given it a bad image. These include charging money for bail, detaining suspects beyond 48hours except with court order, extortion and all forms of brutality.

In the quest for better governance, we may likely see more protests going forward and often, movements like this snowball into hoodlums infiltrating the process, attacking people and their properties.

In situations such as the one we recently witnessed in Nigeria, the police and other security agencies are expected to rise up to the occasion by maintaining law and order. But this must be done with caution and in line with the rules of engagement.

We know the police feel bitter and traumatised as a result of the attacks. However, the attack is not against the police as an institution but against some unworthy members of the police force and we do not think the institution shouldn’t have done its constitutional duties to protect Nigerians and their properties.

Just as we stated in our editorial on Friday, an investor (domestic or foreign) will only be attracted when he feels his investment is safe. However, if he wakes up to find out that his investments were already destroyed or stolen, he would take flight out of the country and discourage others from coming. Nigeria is in dire need of investments, in this case, foreign direct investments. News such as vandalism and lootings will only make this a mirage. Inefficiency of a unit as critical as the police force can and would impede the growth potentials of any nation

GDP measures economic activities in simple terms. The police force is key to ensuring business activities run smoothly without the risk of business loss to bandits.

We must however take note of the uninspiring and poor working conditions of the Nigerian police. The police are poorly funded and situations such as this can lower the morale of both the officers as well as the rank and file. This is why better remuneration and funding for the police force is top on the demands of ENDSARS protesters. We support this demand.

The Nigeria Police Force is grossly underfunded. BusinessDay’s analysis reveals that between 2010 and 2019 the Federal Government budgeted N3.47 trillion for the remuneration and welfare of police officers and for police stations across the country. With 371,800 police officers in the force, the data imply that each officer had a total of N9.336 million for salaries, emoluments and welfare packages in the last 10 years. The N9.336 million was not just for one police officer. An officer shared that allocation with his/her police station and other police academies in 10 years. This money, therefore, amounts to N933,557 per capita in the police force per year.

Broken down further, it means that one police officer’s salary and allowances, shared with his or her police station, amounted to N77,804 per month. Depending on the exchange rate, the amount is equivalent to just $216 or $172 per police officer per month.

This is rather appalling for an officer who has to put his life at risk to ensure the safety of lives and properties of Nigerians. To have a better performance from the police, government would need to review the funding, equipment and other impediments to effective and efficient policing in Nigeria