The major role of the Police Force in any society, is to ensure the safety of every citizen, and to make sure that peace is always present in the society.
The Nigeria Police Force however seem to be failing in this regard thanks to rising insecurity and increasing stories of police brutality. Why is it so?
A Nigerian Police Officer, (name withheld) with 20 years experience, narrows the root cause of these problems to four major factors. In this exclusive interview with TheNewsBeam, the officer provided tips on how citizens can identify fake police officers and examples of protective kits for self defense.
I am a Police Officer, I have been in the force for 20 years now. I joined the force because I like the work, even though it has the good, bad and ugly. I love the job.
I love the job because it helps you to know more people and it puts you in a position to be able to help people.
How did you join the police force
To join the force, I filled out the form, after scaling that phase, I was invited to write an exam. After I passed the exam I went to training school for 6 months.
In addition to this, if you want to move up or get promoted, the force offers a promotional course/exam every 4 years.
What do you dislike about the force?
The salary is small compared to other security agencies. That’s what I don’t like about the job
What would you say about the current insecurity in the country? What do you think is the cause?
The major cause of insecurity is first of all lack of good training on the part of parents, because this has produced people who cause havoc and disturbance in the society.
The second cause of insecurity is the government, and that’s in three phases.
First, poor recommendation, however it’s getting better, before anybody can join the Force, as long as you have completed primary 6, you can join the Force.
Secondly, most times some officers skip the process as they are given access to join the Force because they know somebody or they have relatives at the top in the Force. The government doesn’t employ competent people, they just put people in the Force because they know them and they want to keep them out of unemployment.
Thirdly, officers don’t have good equipment and they aren’t provided with the right atmosphere to work.
Do you feel secure doing this job?
It’s with God I feel secured. You know this job is a matter of life and death. So I pray well before coming to work and thank God after work.
From your experience, what are the lasting solutions you will strongly recommend to effectively address insecurity in Nigeria. How do you think we can tackle it?
Firstly, the government should keep the youths busy by providing jobs for them.
Two, provide adequate equipment for the Force and majorly increase their salaries.
Three, the government should employ graduates into this profession, because this job is majorly about writing, especially reports.
It’s unfortunate that most officers cannot even write their names and it’s a problem.
And lastly, they should employ more people, we need more hands in other departments too like the investigative unit, etc but they should be graduates.
What do you think is restraining the Force from tackling insecurity in the nation?
Just as I have been saying, inadequate equipment in the Force, you know the incident of #EndSARS that resulted in the burning of police stations and carting away of weapons, it paralyzed the Force, so if the government can help recoup us again and motivate us by increasing our salaries, we would be encouraged to do more.
I also think the officers that are not well trained contributed to the restraint, most of them would be the ones painting the Force as bad. However, the government is already making ways to flush them out of the system.
One of the ways the government is doing that is by shuffling and changing many officer stations. So in the stations right now, you get to see new faces. This is because the government found out that because some officers stay too long in an area, they become too comfortable and may start oppressing the people in that vicinity.
So now, an officer is permitted to stay in a station for three years before he is transferred to another station, well it has always been but it would be enforced now,
We thought the Police are supposed to be our friend, so why the incidences of Police brutality?
It’s not all Police officers that are bad. Some are very good. It has to do with individuality. Moreover it’s not that officers want to be bad, but civilians sometimes are the cause, it’s not an excuse to inflict pain on them, we can handle those people professionally, but as I have been saying, some officers didn’t go through appropriate training.
I will say this again, it’s not all officers that are bad, especially those who know they don’t live in the barracks and would have to change to a casual dress, and be like every other civilian after work everyday. These people would treat people as they want to be treated.
How Can Citizens Keep Themselves Safe
Do not walk late at night
Do not reveal so much about yourself on social media
Be security conscious
You can have your own little protective kit for self defense, e.g pepper spray, but not guns or unauthorized/prohibited instruments for civilians, asides that you can get yourself anything for self defense.
How can citizens identify a genuine police officer from a disguised police officer?
Here are some important things you should look out for whenever you come across a police officer.
1. Six-digit Number Tag: a real policeman must have a six-digit number tag on his shirt. Any person who has digits less/more than six is a fake officer.
2. Number tag on female officers starts with zero ‘0’, any male officer with a number beginning with ‘0’ is fake.
3. Embroidered Name Tag: All police officer’s name tags are woven to their shirts, no more removable name tags.
4. Police SPY (Supernumerary) have a unique number tag: A SPY (supernumerary) police personnel has the word “SPY” on the shoulder of their uniforms with either three (3) or four (4) digits boldly written on their uniforms.