For the police to police properly, the need for a polished policy of policing is paramount, and precisely that seems to be the plan of Alkali Usman Baba, the 21st indigenous Inspector General of Police. In Nigeria today, security operatives, particularly the police, are facing new and daunting challenges daily, that range from confronting their own original or historical mandate, to facing increasingly organized criminal networks, under a situation of diminishing morale.
Although successive leaderships of the Nigeria police have made different attempts at confronting these challenges, the problems seem to be mutating from minor to major, or even bad to worse.
Terrorism, banditry, kidnapping for ransom and now violent attacks in the south east, are arguably Nigeria’s greatest security threats in the year 2021. Local groups, allegedly with international terror links are embedded in the north west, while politically influenced separatists are being used to disturb the peace of the south east, and to some extent, the south west.
Their activities, believed by some as politically motivated because of the desire for power shift come 2023, foment local conflicts and enable organized crime rackets to wreak havoc on the already heated and politically tensed landscapes.
This is because years of security interventions have not completely dislodged the insurgents, even though there are improvements in some areas, the need for new initiatives that would include local approaches and incorporate tactics beyond kinetic counterterrorism, would surely help in arresting the escalation of crime and criminality in the country.
It is in the pursuit of a lasting solution to these problems, that since he assumed office about a fortnight ago, Ag. IGP Alkali has been on his toes, working on ways for reshaping and redefining the purpose and operations of the Nigeria police.
Sequel to other security meetings he held with other strategic commanders, IGP Alkali had another one on Thursday 15/04/21, this time around with the Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police, Commissioners of Police and other Heads of Police Formations in the country. The principal purpose of course is to unveil his policing vision and how best to confront terrorism, insurgency and other serious violent crimes.
Perhaps because of his wide experience and exposure, especially with regards to democratic policing, Alkali is ambitious in giving the Nigeria police a more polished and humane face, as an organization that is saddled with the responsibility of dealing with threats, without necessarily abusing or violating the rights of the accused.
Particularly important to him it seems, is how does the police prioritise the protection of human rights in the country and how do they hold themselves and other security forces accountable, so that they do not themselves become catalysts for further abuse?
Sometimes addressing these challenges becomes more complex, when responses to such criminal activities like banditry, terrorism or insurgent activities occur in civilian spaces, as the police are expected to provide the investigative capacity required to hold the terrorist suspects accountable.
According to CP Frank Mba, the Force Public Relations Officer, the highlights of the new policing vision include:
1.Deploying cutting-edge policing technology and integrating intelligence-led policing practices to core policing functions, with a view to strengthening police capacity to stabilise the internal security order and restore public confidence in the Force. The new policing vision equally seeks to, among other things, give full effect to the concept of community policing and deliver quality police service that will be guided by the principles of public accountability and conformity to the rule of law. It will also embrace the social content of policing in which police officers see themselves as compassionate servants and helpers of the citizens.
2. The IGP stated that the meeting with the Strategic Commanders was convened to discuss strategies to roll-back the unacceptable security tide occasioned by the increasing threat to internal security by terror elements, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbery syndicates and arms traffickers.
3. The IGP reassured citizens that the Force under his leadership shall evolve a new policing culture where police officers will uphold the rights of the people and work within professional standards. He expressed confidence that in the shortest possible time, the new policing vision and operational strategies would return our beloved nation to the path of public safety, security and peace.
4. Meanwhile, as part of the Force reorganizational plans to ensure that its units operate only in the context of their original mandates and remain human rights compliant, humane and people-driven, the IGP has ordered the immediate reforms of the IGP Monitoring Unit and the disbandment of all its satellite offices across the country.
By coincidence, IGP Alkali’s polished policing policy on improving the future of the police, was unveiled on a day coinciding with the return of President Muhammadu Buhari from a medical trip abroad, and also the day that Facebook is posting a flashback, on a remark I made on a day like this, in 2016. A portion of it goes thus:
“It was General William Booth who said, You cannot improve the future without disturbing the present. While in China, before his return home today, PMB made a pronouncement, to the effect that, he is going to disturb the present condition of vandals in Nigeria, in order for the country to have an improved living condition in future. The announcement was a direct response to the rampant activities of pipeline vandals and other saboteurs, whose hallmark is regular rascality, that results in frequent power failure in Nigeria. PMB said his government would henceforth treat them like the Boko Haram insurgents.”
The President is also back now, and the new IGP was on the ground to receive him. Whatever action the President took to address the militancy in the Niger delta then, I think it should be replicated in the south east. And the time is now, that the country has a brand new and vibrant IGP, in the person of Alkali Usman Baba.