Low morale has always been a major challenge facing the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). This worsened following the #EndSARS –related nationwide mayhem that culminated in the looting and burning of police stations, and killing of police officers.
In Lagos State, which was the hardest-hit, for instance, 16 police stations were burnt by rampaging mobs across the state, and 13 police formations were vandalised as well as police posts in four areas. Law and order broke down.
Now the police are reported to be reluctant to do their work, which is maintaining law and order. This is understandable but unacceptable.
Police Service Commission (PSC) spokesman Ikechukwu Ani condemned “the killing of police officers on legitimate duties,” adding that the commission “can only plead with the officers to in the spirit of nationalism return to work while the government works out enough protective programmes for them.”
This sounds like an admission that the police lacked adequate protection, which made them vulnerable to attacks during the #EndSARS protests. The losses suffered by the police may well be due to their lack of capacity. They simply couldn’t fight back when the mobs struck. Why were they so powerless?
It’s noteworthy that Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu listed the requirements of the police at a public hearing organised in February by the House of Representatives Committee on Police Affairs. The focus was ‘Repositioning the Nigeria Police for an Enhanced Service Delivery.’
The IGP, who was represented at the event by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), Abdulmajid Ali, said the Force needed more personnel, not less than 1,000 Armoured Personnel Carriers, and 250,000 assault rifles with corresponding ammunition, to effectively police the country.
He also said the police needed 2,000,000 tear gas canisters and smoke grenades, 200,000 riot gunners and smoke pistols, 1,000 tracking devices, and 774 operational drones, among others.
These requirements will cost money, almost N1tn, the police boss said. The police authorities had asked for N944, 856,416,800 to combat rising insecurity across the country.
Also, there is no doubt that Nigeria needs more policemen. The United Nations (UN) standard of policing says one policeman to 400 citizens, but Nigeria is said to have one policeman to 600 citizens.
An ill-equipped police force cannot be expected to effectively maintain law and order. The police are licking their wounds, and it will take some time for them to get over their humiliation during the #EndSARS protests.
It’s clear that the police need to be strengthened and well equipped to face the challenges of their work. Powerless police are an aberration.
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