Task Before New Rivers CP


The recurring theme of Nigeria’s 20-year-old democratic experience is the role of the police in the nation’s rather tempestuous electoral process.
The Nigerian Police, like its counterpart the world over, ought to be preoccupied with the maintenance of law and order in the society. This is, moreso, in a democratic setting as ours where they are supposed to be the major drivers of the vehicle that conveys the rule of law as opposed to the rule of brute force reminiscent of totalitarian states.
Sadly enough, however, that has never been the case. There has been a persistent condemnation of and a rejection of several attempts by the Nigerian Police to corrupt the nation’s electoral process and truncate our fledgling democracy, apparently to please its paymasters.
In fact, the ignoble and unprofessional conduct of the Nigerian Police, especially under the present All Progressives Congress-led administration has elicited so much public concern and outcry that they have become the butt of prolific literary broadsides and caricature by many analysts and other highly perceptible Nigerians. But this hasn’t lessened the problems.
While many now see the Police as a deadly virus that has afflicted the nation’s democratic journey, others still see it as a highly constipated organisation – like the obviously notorious Independent National Electoral Commission – that urgently requires a veritable purgative to rid it of its toxins and near intractable excesses.
It is irrefragable and indeed unfortunate that the Buhari Presidency has turned Nigeria to a Police State where opponents of the APC-led Federal Government are continually hounded, harassed and treated as enemies of the state with trumped-up charges in a manner akin to Hitler’s Gestapo.
Never before, since Nigeria’s return to a democratic rule, has the police so arrogantly and flagrantly displayed overt and manifest partisanship in the discharge of its duties as is the case now. There was once an overwhelming evidence showing how the commander of a somewhat lunatic fringe of the Nigerian Police dutifully held an umbrella protecting a much younger governorship candidate in the build -up to the 2015 election in Rivers State, thereby throwing all known norms of decency and professionalism to the dogs.
Sometime last year, the then Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, looked the other way as thugs, allegedly sponsored by the APC, violently invaded the State High Court, just a few metres away from the Command’s Headquarters, without arresting and prosecuting them as directed by the Chief Justice of the Federation. Till date, nobody has been brought to justice.
It is, perhaps, as a tribute to his ‘excellent performance’ that Ahmed has been nominated by the Police High Command for a course at the once prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru in Jos.
Little wonder then that the newly appointed Rivers State Police Commissioner, Usman Belel, is being seen as a new wine in old skin, just as not a few considers his avowed commitment to professionalism as a jaded homily for which nearly all past Police Commissioners are renowned.
Of the 39 police commissioners that have served in Rivers State since its creation in 1967, Belel is the 7th commissioner to assume duties in Rivers State under Governor Nyesom Wike, a development many believe is suspect, given its timing. But in his maiden press briefing, penultimate Friday, the new police boss vowed “to be professional, focused and non-partisan in the discharge of my duties”.
Reeling out his agenda, the police chief stated that the command, under his watch, would encourage and promote intelligence-led policing and community partnership.
“We shall also embark on visibility policing. The presence of the Police shall be felt by all and sundry. We shall not only detect crimes but prevent them”, he said.
Belel had, during a visit to the State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, also assured that the Police, under his command, will work professionally to fight crimes and make the state safe for residents to carry out their lawful businesses.
However, Wike, who had for the umpteenth time, decried the unprofessional conduct, particularly the brazen partisanship of the Police in the state, urged the police commissioner to focus on ending kidnapping, cultism and other violent crimes, warning that under no circumstances should crime be politicised.
Said Wike: “Government will give you all the necessary support to fight crime. I believe that you will fulfill your pledge to be professional in the discharge of your duties”.
The Tide agrees no less. The new police boss must resist unnecessary pressures in the public interest and be apolitical at all times. There is a compelling necessity now for the command under him to speedily address itself to identifying the security challenges in the state, assessing their magnitudes and analysing them with a clear-minded, clear-headed objectivity.
After this diagnosis, the police commissioner should adopt a suitable and long-term approach towards their solutions.
More importantly, the police commissioner would need to demonstrate his commitment to policies he has enunciated for the security of lives and property in the state, by manifestly practising all that he has pledged, and whatever he preaches in the day-to-day administration of the command without fear or favour. In this way, he would have left an enviable record of steadfastness and commitment to the very etiquette undergirding the basic principles of professional best practices as well as an abiding loyalty to noble ideals.