A former Inspector-General of Police and Chairman Police Service Commission, Musiliu Smith, on Wednesday revealed to the Senate that the rot in the Police Force had got to a head as criminals and drug bandits give gift of houses to serving policemen as bribes.
Smith made the allegation during a public hearing on a ‘Bill for an Act to repeal the Police Act CaP P19 Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and enact the Police Act, 2018’, which held at the National Assembly complex.
The hearing which was attended by the topmost echelon of the Police formation and other relevant institutions of government and individuals, was conducted by Senate Committee on Police Affairs.
Also, Smith opposed plans by the Senate to expunge ‘Force’ from the name of the organisation and retain only Nigeria Police, saying that it must be done appropriately, in line with the provisions of the constitution.
He averred that since what is contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is “Nigeria Police Force”, and not Nigeria Police, it had become imperative for the National Assembly to first amend the Constitution before reflecting it in the bill, else, the name should be allowed as captured in the Constitution.
Besides, he further observed that the Police was poorly funded, a situation he said, was responsible for the poor performance of the institution in discharging its constitutional responsibility of maintaining law and order and protecting lives and property of citizens.
It was on this premise that the former Police boss canvassed for better funding of the Police, stressing that the annual budgetary provisions for the Force was usually grossly inadequate, and would never allow the agency to carry out its duties diligently.
In his words, “I have few observations. One is the name from Nigeria Police Force to Nigeria Police. If the name has to be changed, it has to be done constitutionally. We met a police when all the training schools were working. We met a police where you could not be promoted without writing an examination.
“We met a police where every policeman lived in the barracks. Some policemen are given houses by criminals and hard drug bandits. That need to change. We should think of additional funding source for the police.
“In Lagos State, a governor came into office. He didn’t like what he met on ground. He invited some of us to change what was on ground. That was what gave birth to Lagos State Police Trust Fund. We can’t tackle insecurity without this. Let us think of that. The annual yearly budget ritual can’t help. It will not take us anywhere. If you want a highly motivated Police Force, we should adequately fund it”.
Also, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, opposed plans by the Senate to pass the bill seeking to make it compulsory for the apex legislative assembly to confirm the appointment of an IGP by the President.
Idris even killed led against parts of the proposed bill which would empower the Senate to remove the IGP whenever it deemed it necessary, saying that such provision was unnecessary and would politicise the Force.
Suffice it to say that this was the first time the IGP was appeared before any Senate Panel after his refusal to appear before the Senate earlier in the year.
In the amendment bill, the Senate Committee is also proposing to reduce the number of Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) from seven to one but Idris expressed opposition to the idea, saying that the reduction would make the job hectic for the IGP.
In his words, “You can’t police a people without their consent. The provisions of the Bill are in consonance with the contents of the Criminal Justice System. The confirmation and removal of the IGP by the Senate is not necessary. It will politicise the Police Force. It should be expunged from the Bill. The tenure of the IGP of five years should be maintained.
“The appointment of the IGP in consultation with Police Service Commission is appropriate. There should not be any confirmation by the Senate. This is the desire and position of the Police Force. There should not be one DIG. There should be seven as we have already. Having one will put too much pressure on the IGP. Having seven reduces the workload.”