#YNaijaEndSARSupdates: Beyond #EndSARS – a Police Officer’s candid suggestions to reform the system | #ReformPoliceNG

Ever since the #EndSARS protest began, every Nigerian has in one way or the other been affected by it. The most saddening part of it is that despite the fact that many lives have been cut short in their prime with several others injured, our political leaders are yet to come up with concrete practical steps to address the problem.

A citizen who is a Police Officer has, however, made some useful suggestions that may go a long way in tackling the problem as seen on one Káyọ̀dé Ògúndámisí’s Twitter page, who shared the instructive tips after reportedly having a conversation with the Police Officer in question.

His tweet:

“Thread! @PoliceNG Officer Speaks on #EndSars #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeria. 

“So a Compatriot who is serving in the Nigerian Police got in touch with me. The officer requested the publication of the following; this was after 30 minutes plus conversation on @telegram app.” 

Here are the useful tips for tackling Police reforms:

He noted the obvious fact that extortion of Nigerians is not limited to the SARS unit alone, but a general problem with the entire police institution.

“1. The extortion of members of the public including #SARS is not with the @PoliceNG personnel on the road, it is institutional.”

He identified the very root of the corrupt practices of members of the Police force, pointing out that low ranking officers are denied their welfare package by the Police Commissioners who embezzle the funds, thereby, forcing them to extort the public to get funds to cater to their needs while on duty.

“2. He claims @PoliceNG commissioners embezzles security vote meant for the upkeep of operational officers. Police divisions are meant to get welfare funds but it never trickles down to low ranking officers who now buy their own uniform, fuel car from funds extorted from the public.”

The corrupt practices are entrenched in the system from top to bottom as each operational team on checkpoints is given a weekly target of a certain amount to remit to their bosses from proceeds of extortion. 

“3. Every @PoliceNG operational team on checkpoints, raids makes a targeted KPI weekly monetary return to their commanders, DPO’s and HOD’s who in turn makes a return to the CP of the State or the CP in charge of the unit. These CP’s makes a return to IGP. The PMF is not exempted.”

Squadron Commanders in the Police force are not posted on merit. They are all involved in extorting their subordinates.

“4. The posting of Squadron Commanders is not by merit. They all make returns monthly by deducting money meant for their boys on special duties (Security covers for Celebrities, rich individuals, escorting night bus for transport companies, securing social party, banks and others.”

As part of the solution to the problem, he advised the government to promptly ban Police officers from carrying out “stop and arrest” operations based on the expiration of drivers’/vehicle license because it is being abused as a money-making venture. He added that the VIO/FRSC should be allowed to focus on this instead.

“5. He Advised the Nigerian government to immediately ban @PoliceNG officers from operational “stop any arrest” based on the expiration of driving or vehicle license as it is a money-making scheme. The VIO or @FRSCNigeria should focus on this and transfer cases to police if need be.”

The Police force is commercialised to a large extent and the corruption is endemic.

“6. @PoliceNG is highly commercialised from top to bottom, funds budgeted do not go to the rank and file, police equipment is meant to be repaired but long abandoned and they get votes every year, officers simply look for funds outside of the force to survive and live.”

“7. I have a PhD and head a @PoliceNG tactical unit, myself and my unit work with pains and bitterness because they work under pressure to give returns to those above and nothing for them. I can not stop the boys so I lecture part-time to make up for my upkeep. The rot is huge”

Training funds need to be probed. Police officers cannot go on study leave without bribing their superiors; without a godfather, lower-ranking officers do get the required training and even when they get a chance to train, they must remit part of their allowance to management.

“8. They should probe training funds, they should ask why @PoliceNG officers have to bribe to go on study leave. If you do not have a godfather you cannot go on essential training, when you go you pay back part of your allowance to the admin team in the office”

Nepotism thrives, only the privileged among the officers benefit from international support for training. 

“9. @PoliceNG get international supports for training officers when the slot comes, you never hear anything, all international courses are shielded in secrecy and you only see privileged people go, office-based staff are sent for tactical command weapons training abroad.”

Fixing the problem in the Police force requires a holistic approach because it is way beyond extortion of funds alone. Deeper issues such as integrity and accountability must be addressed.

“10. The problem of @PoliceNG is not just about the fund, it is about accountability, a holistic probe into the existing funds and then reform. 

“An average constable drives an expensive car when a DSP who chose to be honest walks on foot, the morale is low within the service.”

Some Policemen in Abia go about with POS to extort money from the public. And every young man on dreads or ripped jeans is profiled as a fraudster or a kidnapper. Entering Aba at night is risky due to their illicit operations – citizens are forced to the ATM at gunpoint. And all that goes on in Aba is a reflection of what happens across the country.

“11. High Returning Divisions: There is a division in Abia State called Ndiegoro Divisional Police Station and Eziama Divisional Police Station. Personnel of these stations just like SARS situated at Aba North LGA goes around on minibuses (Suzuki Every) with POS machines.

“12. Up pointing backhand index Every young guy on dread or rugged Jean is a fraudster or suspected kidnapper. A certain Bishop and a policeman called Malaysia in Eziama division takes people on gunpoint to ATM and push them out of vehicles late night. These bad officers can be located by @PoliceNG.

“13. Up pointing backhand indexAnyone entering ABA late night is at risk. These men have been reported on many occasions but only asked to refund the money and nothing happens. The reason they are invincible is because senior @PoliceNG officers get returns, to stop the rot, start from the head.

“14. Up pointing backhand indexOhuru-Isimiri Division in OBINGWA LGA is a nightmare to tricycle and motorcycles riders. You can visit to ask members of the public about all these stations in Aba. What happens in Aba is replicated across the other @PoliceNG divisions across the country.”

He pointed out that Police officers have their struggles too and need public support and understanding to solve the endemic corruption in the system resulting from poor remuneration and lack of the required support for the Police. He also said that the Police need public commendation for the good works those of them with integrity render to the nation, also adding that they can do better to ensure a low crime rate in the society when issues of their welfare are adequately addressed.

“15. The public are also part of the problem of @PoliceNG When officers do gallant jobs, we are seeing as just doing our job, even when we lose officers. Nigerians have made up their mind that we are all corrupt so even those who want to be honest ask why should they bother.

“16. The public must fight for @PoliceNG officers, do you know we ration ammunition and guns, the weapons we use against robbers with automatic weapons are outdates, when did anyone offer to visit a police station or barrack to see how we live.

“17. If #EndsSARS or #EndPoliceBrutality is to be successful, the reform must include speaking with officers who do the dirty work, right now everyone is having a conversation about us but no one is talking to us. Police are Nigerians too, we have to build trust with ourselves.

“18. Those talking about @PoliceNG by officers on the streets should check how much a sergeant is paid, not to talk of a constable, you can not pay an officer 59 Thousand Naira a month, he buys uniform from it, transport and feeds his family and you expect the best from him.

“19. The number of @PoliceNG officers is very small, even if you reform, the number we have can not deliver the kind of magic Nigerians want the police to give. The people should not be anti-police and separate the bad from the good.

“20. I am telling you that the @PoliceNG officers adopted by some States who pay them extra are doing very well, crime is low and they are dedicated. Nigeria should withdraw police on ‘special duties’ with VIP and those with money and influence.”

Going by this, it is clear that the problem is far bigger than what meet the eyes and if the #EndSARS protest must yield the desired result, all stakeholders will be required to have an effective dialogue session to find a lasting solution to the problem that plagues the entire nation.

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