Do you think the Nigeria Police Force as constituted can address the security challenges in the country?
There is no way they can because, first of all, successive governments, starting from the military regimes, started the proliferation of security agencies by establishing identical agencies to perform the same job with the police. Those establishments now constitute leakages for security votes. By that, I mean, you have the Federal Road Safety Corps which is doing the job of police in traffic management. Then, you have other agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission which are carrying out investigations into financial crimes which the police were doing. So, instead of having one strong security organisation, you have so many doing the same thing and even promoting schism among themselves. While one tries to outdo the others and in the process, they leave many things undone. This is the only former colonial country that has as many as four other agencies doing the same thing as the police. Take Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and other former colonial countries for instance; they don’t have what you call EFCC, ICPC or road safety corps. By creating all these, they are weakening the police and they brought in almost the dregs of the society.
Are the police getting quality training that could equip them for modern security challenges?
Apart from the senior officers who are well educated, a lot of them are graduates now, the other boys, we have secondary school graduates among them, but they are not well trained. We haven’t got a police institution with state-of-the-art equipment that can give modern training. For instance, you have 774 local government areas in the country. I can bet that many local governments haven’t got a vehicle. So, how do you police? Policing depends on manpower, communication and mobility and when I say manpower, I mean trainable manpower. These things are not there. When you report a case, because there is no vehicle, before the police could attend to you, the robber is about a 100km away. Tell me, what do you do in that case? The media too has a role to play. I know you have your limitations and constraints too, but don’t ask me whether the police are doing something about security.
What would you say is the impact of ECOWAS Protocol on movement on national security?
You left your borders wide open in the name of ECOWAS and you have not been able to identify Nigerians and non-Nigerians. The national identity card they are talking about also has to do with security. When you are talking of herdsmen, were the ones from Nigeria killing people? There is an incursion of herdsmen. I believe from the West African sub-region. So, don’t tell me the police can do all these things. Do they have magic? Every advanced police organisation use science and technology. Here, you don’t, you are still basing your investigation on question and answer. ‘Where were you last night?’ How can Nigeria as big as it is with its oil wealth not have modern cities with Closed Circuit Television? In London, once anything happens on the street, they would play back the video and the criminal would be picked out. The idea is this, if you want to commit a crime and you know you would be detected, that serves as a deterrent. How many crimes have we detected here?
Are you saying the government is not sincere about tackling insecurity?
They are not. The young boys who are ruling now are talking of state police. The most expensive venture any government can undertake is security and it is in the preamble of the Constitution-preservation of lives and property and provision of employment. How many universities do you have in this country? We have more than 100. How many people do you employ every year? When we were growing up, we had labour ministry, you register with them after graduating from school. If there is any vacancy in any office, they would call you. You don’t have to know anybody. So, you train people in the university and then, they have no job. You are establishing a second army which is more formidable than the national army. That is the army of the unemployed, that is what you have succeeded in doing and you want the police to perform a miracle. Everybody is asking for state police when they cannot pay N30,000 minimum wage. How can you defend the monthly payment of N15million to members of the House of Representatives while the common man cannot get N30,000 per month for transportation and school fees for his children? Is that fair?
But the police leadership believes community policing could help in addressing crime in the country?
What is community policing? The crucial concept is to get people who are well-trained to protect society while citizens are engaged in their lawful ventures. We were the best in Africa, but they killed the whole system. Are you not ashamed that the police are still using guns to control riots? Are Nigerians animals? Other African countries which have no oil revenue use water cannons which cannot kill. You can even colour the water to put permanent stains on the persons you want to arrest and then you go and pick them up. Here, we are still using guns to kill people as if they are animals. In other countries, they are talking about animal rights. Have you got any human rights here?
How do you react to the tussle between the police and the Police Service Commission over recruitment of constables?
That is a usurpation of the commission’s function. Before independence, there was a constitutional conference in England in 1957. The British government invited all the leaders of the country, Sardauna from the North; Nnamdi Azikiwe from the East; Obafemi Awolowo from the West and other political leaders from the minority areas, from Ogoja, Delta and other areas and the British government in their wisdom set up the Willink Commission to look into the fears of the minorities that the majority group may use the police to oppress them after independence. The commission came up with the idea that there should be a Police Service Commission and the function was one: to recruit people into the Nigeria Police and in recruiting, it should ensure tribal balance. The PSC became the precursor of the federal character regime. Two, that the police service commission should be responsible for discipline and for promotion, from Constables to Deputy Inspectors-General of Police. There was no DIG then. The highest rank was Commissioner of Police. So, it is in the Constitution that the function of the commission was to recruit. They may have delegated the duty to the IG because the commission was not fully functional, not well manned. I addressed this issue between 2008 and 2012. I started the building of the PSC headquarters in Abuja and it is one of the most beautiful headquarters of all the head offices of other commissions in Nigeria today. Go and look at it. And I built it with just over N4billion, whereas, others are building their own at a far higher amount. We wanted to establish that so they can attend to the needs of the police. But for the IG to wake up one day and say it is the duty of the police to recruit, I think that is not in line with the Constitution. There is no need for them to quarrel over who should recruit when everything is written in the Constitution. Either the Attorney-General of the Federation would resolve it for them or they go to court.
The AGF has written a letter, saying the police have the constitutional mandate to recruit their men. What do you make of this?
If the Constitution says it is the duty of the commission to recruit, I don’t see the relevance of his letter.
What is the implication of the refusal of the DIG in charge of Training and Development, Yakubu Jubrin, to respond to a query for misconduct issued to him by the commission?
I just told you that the commission is responsible for recruitment and discipline in the police. The Head of State should step into this matter. If I were the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, I would resign and leave the job for them. If this had happened while I was the commission chairman, I would have left for Benin. The current Chairman, Musiliu Smith, is a cool-headed man, so let the court decide.
What are the hallmarks of the police during your time which you would like the current force leadership to institute?
First of all, the police must be properly trained, not just the initial training, but continuous training. At the beginning when you are recruited, your career progress is programmed. At certain ranks, you are made to go for some specific courses and they are watching the areas where you are likely to excel and they put you in that area and of course, this must be backed by technology. Do you know that kidnappers relied on telephone to succeed? They, first of all, take their victim to a location, then they would start negotiating with the family members for ransom. We have equipment that can trace your location to three metres. Will they buy it? In Abuja, you would see poles meant for CCTVs, but why didn’t they complete the project? Somebody who was in charge stole the money and that was the end of the project. They have CCTVs in all modern cities across the world except in Nigeria.