Restoring Policemen to VIPs: An indulgence in selective security
The Inspector-General of Police has ordered the restoration of police personnel once withdrawn from politicians, businesses, and others. This is at a time when the country is contending with various shades of insecurity as a result of the shortage of policemen.
It is, therefore, not only dangerous to deny and put the lives of millions of Nigerians at the mercy of criminal elements. It also amounts to an indulgence in selective security.
The total number of policemen available to about 200 million Nigerians is estimated at 400,000. This amounts to 1 policeman to 500 Nigerians or even more.
In 2018, the Police Service Commission (PSC) said that over 150,000 policemen were attached to VIPs and other unauthorised persons in the country. Mike Okiro, chairman of PSC disclosed that ministers who have been out of office for over 10 to 15 years are still walking around with police security.
With over 150,000 police officers attached to these private individuals alone, it means the entire country has to grapple with about less than 250,000 policemen. It means one police officer to 800 Nigerians or 6,756 police officers to each of the states in the country. Given that the reality is some states, due to their peculiarities, get more policemen compared to others.
Aminu Bello, Governor of Katsina State which has been under siege by terrorist groups often known as bandits, recently complained about the inadequate number of police in his state with a population of 8 million people. Katsina is also one of the states where telecom services are partially shut down as part of measures to combat terrorist activities.
In October 2020, Mohammed Adamu, former IGP ordered the withdrawal of the police officers – about 120,000 – attached to about 60 prominent Nigerians and corporate entities. The withdrawal order was partly in a bid to increase the number of officers available to protect the general population.
The current IGP is reversing the decision. Frank Mba, the force spokesperson explained the decision was inevitable given that “the police also owe certain categories of citizens a duty of care; they could be political office holders, high-risk individuals in the business or corporate world. These persons would always get added layers of security in addition to what we proffer on the streets and highways. The personnel who have been withdrawn can only return if there are new facts which require a review of the initial decision in their favour.”
It is very disturbing that the welfare of a few individuals is prioritised above the need of the majority. While we acknowledge the government’s plan to recruit about 60,000 police officers for the next six years, reserving over 150,000 existing officers to cater to the security needs of a few Nigerians does not portray seriousness in tackling the high insecurity problems in the country.
It is very disturbing that the welfare of a few individuals is prioritised above the need of the majority.
Besides, 60,000 extra policemen hardly address effectively the challenges the country faced. In 2017, Ibrahim Idris, the former IGP said Nigeria requires additional 155,000 personnel to adequately provide security for the country. This meant recruiting 31,000 cadets annually for five years.
The current government’s plan of 10,000 for the next five is therefore inadequate and so is reserving a huge number of the police force for so-called ‘special’ individuals. The practice has over time depleted the number of mobile policemen officially on national duty, effectively prolonging the security crisis in the country. Granting such privileges is responsible for the few officers left for core police duties like investigations and patrols, as such; most Nigerian communities are at the mercy of criminals.
In other countries, VIPs engage the services of private security guards. Since the ex-governors, former ministers, businesses, politicians, entertainers, and clerics can afford the service, they should be made to get such from private guards without putting undue pressure on the overburdened police system. It is time to end this selective security and gets serious with the protection of lives and properties as these relate to all Nigerians-and not a few of our countrymen and women