Prioritising Critical Reforms in the Nigeria Police Force – THISDAY Newspapers

When Usman Alkali Baba was appointed the 21st indigenous Inspector General of Police, one of his key derivatives was kickstart critical reforms in the Nigeria Police Force. To do this, he enshrined, as well as set plans in motion to engender an efficient, effective, well-trained and highly motivated workforce, with deliberate efforts aimed at improving the capacity and welfare of all officers and men of the force. Recently in the city of Owerri, the third edition of the Conference and Retreat for Senior Police Officers afforded the IGP and his men to reflect on gains recorded and need to do more. Chiemelie Ezeobi reports that also on the table was the general conduct of the police in the forthcoming 2023 General Elections 
Landmark Event Centre, Owerri in Imo State, venue of the third edition of the Conference and Retreat for Senior Police Officers, was recently agog as President Muhammadu Buhari and Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, among many others, honoured the invitation of the 21st Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba.
Organised by MD/CEO of Matchmakers Consult International, Mr. Shina Philips, the retreat, themed “Imperative of a Nigeria Police Strategic Plan for Peaceful Elections”, afforded the police hierarchy the opportunity to brainstorm and fashion out workable solutions to deepen not just democracy, but the nation’s security architecture as well.
Held from October 31 to November 2, 2022, the splendour that was the hall was one that ticked off all aesthetic boxes. From the freshly laid green lawns to the red carpets that adorned the exterior and interior of the venue, it was unanimously agreed that Philips and team outdid themselves. 
Not done, they lined the entrance of the venue with backdrops of all indigenous inspector generals of police, taking the guests on a memory lane of the history of the nation’s hierarchial order in the force.
Inside, the aesthetics were even better. With lightnings flooding the massive hall to the crystal chairs and the huge stage where interviews of senior police officers, as well as all the achievements of the current IGP continuously played on the screen, the ambience of what would be a three-day retreat where senior officers, the IGP, stakeholders, and even President Buhari would discuss the state of the nation and the way forward, especially with the forthcoming 2023 General Elections, was set.
Roll Call
With President Buhari as th Special Guest of Honour (SGOH); and Senator Uzodinma as host, the conference also recorded the presence of Yobe State  Governor, Mai Mala Buni; the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi; Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Yahaya Farouk; Chief of Defence Intelligence, General Samuel Adebayo, ; the acting Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman, Clara Ogunbiyi; and INEC Chairman, who was represented by Major General Alkali Modibo (Rtd).
The conference was also attended by several prominent national and state officials including the members of the Imo State House of Assembly, Executive Council members and over 162 senior officers of the ranks of Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIG), Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIG) and Commissioners of Police (CP).
Commitment to Democratic Governance, Credible Elections
In his keynote address afterwards, President Buhari  reaffirmed his commitment to democratic governance and values, free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.
This is just as he charged the police hierarchy to remain apolitical and loyal to the nation’s political values while maintaining the importance of the primacy of the police in the nation’s internal security architecture.
PrioritisingCritical Reforms
To this end, he said his administration had prioritised critical reforms in the force to reflect this mandate. On some of the measures taken to achieve that, he said he assented to the Nigerian Trust Fund Bill to provide a legal framework for an enhanced funding regime for the force.
Not only that, he noted that he signed the Nigeria Police Force Academy Bill to grant statutory recognition for the institution to attain its futuristic manpower development programmes.
 He also approved a new salary and welfare regime, just as he approved and released fund to recruit 10,000 police constables annually to address the wide manpower gap in the force.
In furtherance to President Buhari’s commitment to extensive police reforms, President Buhari stated the Federal Government was already working with some development partners towards strengthening the Police reform agenda with a view to restoring the primacy of the police in internal security.
“My vision is also to bequeath to the nation a Police Force that is not only modernised but well-funded, suitably equipped, and appropriately re-orientated to effectively police our democracy and guarantee a stable internal security order under a citizen-led, technology-driven rule of law guided by intelligence-based policing.”
Perfecting Security Strategy 
In his welcome remarks, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, commended President Buhari for his support and approval of all his requests in ensuring the safety of lives and property in the country.
IGP Alkali Baba noted that the retreat would enable participants to discuss issues relating to the role of the police and internal security process towards ensuring a peaceful, secure, free, fair and credible 2023 general elections, while reiterating the commitment of the police towards ensuring an election free of violence and thuggery.
He assured the President and Nigerians that the force would draw on the outcome of the conference to perfect its election security strategy and action plans towards stabilising the security and political landscape in the country.
Vote of Confidence on Security Forces
Governor Hope Uzodinma while commending the police for hosting the retreat and conference in the state recalled that the earlier programme by the military recently has justified that the state is totally safe.
Uzodinma while assuring that his administration will continue to support the police maintained that ” equipping police is a sure way of fighting crime, we would continue to do what we can to make their job easier.”
He said the state was hosting the August event, “to reassure both residents and visitors that Imo State is safe again for businesses and tourism. I believe that the presence of the top bars of the police and other security forces in the state will help fortify our security and safety as a people.”
On the attacks in police stations, the governor said “hoodlums attacking police at checkpoints is unacceptable in this civilised world.”
Uzodinma while promising to sustain the cordial relationship between his administration and the police recommended that all candidates for the 2023 elections, irrespective of their parties should undertake an oath to remain non-violent throughout the election.
He further insisted that any candidate not satisfied with the conduct of the election should seek redress in court rather than resulting to violence.
But beyond this, has placed premium on police welfare in the state. From donating operational vehicles to introducing of a policy that would insure the lives of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force in the state, to boosting their welfare, the governor has given the utmost support to boost the state’s security architecture.
Goodwill Messages 
In a goodwill message to the Nigeria Police, the Chief of Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor, pledged the military’s continued support to the Nigeria Police, especially during the 2023 general elections.
The Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi, urged the leadership of the Nigeria Police to see the persistent call for the creation of state police as a persuasive desire for the federating units to enjoy more robust policing.
Awards for Deserving Officers
For their roles in upholding the Police Force, several officers and individuals bagged meritorious certificates at the conference.
 The awardees include Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma and his Akwa Ibom counterpart Emmanuel Udom; Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi; his finance counterpart, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed;  Ibrahim Agboola Gambari (CFR), Chief of Staff to the President; Temitope Peter Fashedemi, former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Police Affairs; Ekpo Nta, Esq., Executive Chairman, National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission; and Hon.Muktar Betara– Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations.
Tackling Crime Headlong 
But beyond the conference, it was an opportunity to regale the audience with the achievements recorded by the IGP since assumption of office. 
The police under the watch of IGP Usman Baba Alkali, has arrested no fewer than 4,209 murder suspects and 2,178 alleged kidnappers.
According to the data contained in the event brochure, 3,503 cultists had been arrested across the country, while 4,282 armed robbery suspects were nabbed.
In the period under review, IGP Alkali-led police has also arrested 639 terrorists while 380 suspected sessesionists were arrested by policemen in the country.
Firearms recovered by detectives countrywide is 2,921, with 58,431 ammunition. No fewer than 995 stolen vehicles were recovered, with 2,996 kidnapped victims rescued unhurt.
The police report also disclosed that 76,195 suspects were charged to court nationwide, with 16,463 offenders convicted.
Upon assumption of office on April 6, 2021, Baba immediately set forth the development of a new policy mission and vision for the Nigeria Police Force with a theme, “To protect with courage and serve with compassion”. 
According to the Force Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), “this encompasses the mission of restoring police primacy and bequeathing to the nation a modernised, citizen-led, rule of law-guided, professional police force that Nigerians can truly trust and depend on, to achieve the policing mandate as enshrined in Sections 4 and 5 of the Police Act 2020.
“Also included in his vision is the integration of cutting-edge technology and intelligence-driven policing. It gives a full effect to the concept of citizen-led policing and strenghtens inter-agency collaborations as a pathway to attaining the internal security mandate of the NPF.”
In a recent writeup, Adejobi wrote that “this laudable policing agenda emphasizes respect for human rights, training and human capacity development, restoration of professional standard, and the enhancement of the anti-corruption drive. A litmus test has confirmed so far that, the Police under the able leadership of IGP Alkali Baba is achieving its mandate which is to protect the lives and property of all Nigerian citizens.
” The catalysts include, but is not limited to – deployment of operational, intelligence, and ICT-based apparatus to tackling and stemming the tide of crimes and criminality; maximisation of the Force Intelligence Bureau – Intelligence Response Team (FIB-IRT) and the Special Tactical Squad (FIB-STS). 
Others include the digitalisation of emergency contacts via ‘NPF Rescue Me’ Application for emergency response at the push of a button, both on android and ios; upgrade of NPF Crime and Incident Database centre, which is to handle the registration of lost or misplaced valuable items, thereby making it easier to find them if they get missing after confirming the item’s ownership before purchasing them; the INTERPOL Cybercrime Reporting platform at for 24/7 reportage of cybercrime-related complaints.”
He further said the NPF has engaged in a vigorous deployment of operational assets including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), etc. as well as operational personnel from the PMF, CTU, EOD-CBRNE, for special operations such as Operation Restore Peace, Operation Sahara Storm, and other operations which has actively decimated major bandit/terrorist activities across the nation. 
“Similarly, regular aerial surveillance patrols particularly in areas
affected by the activities of violent criminals is being massively carried out.
“The IGP has embarked on massive construction of vital structures for the NPF as well as renovation/remodeling of existing ones. A total of 198 projects have been completed nationwide. Similarly, existing structures – barracks, training colleges/schools, etc. have been remodeled in line with contemporary standards.
” Since assumption of office, the IGP has vigorously followed up on the welfare needs of personnel of the Force to provide a befitting work environment for police officers. This has led to ncrement in salaries and allowances and stoppage of Tax deductions for Rank & File effective from January, 2022; issuance of uniforms, kits, and accoutrements to all Inspectors and Rank & File, which will be continuous; review of the NPF Housing Policy to provide affordable housing units for police officers, especially the junior ranks; issuance of body armor to all Inspectors and Rank & File in heavy operational areas and strategic locations across the country; approval for prompt payment of allowances for personnel on special duty; acquisition and distribution of operational trucks by the Inspector-General of Police with donations by the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, Ministry of Police Affairs and other stakeholders.
“Under the IGP’s administration, attention has been placed on the need for professionalism and adherence to extant laws by Police Officers in the discharge of their lawful duties. This has prompted the need to look into the various complaints against police action via social media and the meting out of sanctions on violators of laws regulating the actions of police officers. 
“Specialised Units of the Force such as the Force Provost Marshal (FPM), IGP Monitoring and Mentoring Unit (MMU), Complaint Response Unit (CRU), and the Public Complaint Bureau (PCB), receive complaints physically & virtually, investigate and sanction incorrigible officers whose unprofessional conducts negate policing values & negatively impact the drive to smoothen partnership with the citizens.
“Though the task of policing a multi-faceted nation like Nigeria is enormous, a lot has been achieved and a whole lot will be achieved still. With the salient steps taken so far by the IGP, there is no doubt his administration is poised to bequeathing to Nigerians enviable policing services.”
As the curtains drew close on the epoch making event, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Matchmakers Consult International, Mr Shina Philips commended the IGP for his continuous drive to improve the welfare of officers and men. 
My vision is also to bequeath to the nation a Police Force that is not only modernised but well-funded, suitably equipped, and appropriately re-orientated to effectively police our democracy and guarantee a stable internal security order under a citizen-led, technology-driven rule of law guided by intelligence-based policing
The force would draw on the outcome of the conference to perfect its election security strategy and action plans towards stabilising the security and political landscape in the country
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