Saturday, November 12, 2016

IGP And The Missing Police Vehicles

By Paul Onomuakpokpo  
Since governance in these climes is often appropriated by those we entrust with leadership as a means of unbridled material acquisition, we are regularly scandalised by sleaze in public offices. The reports on such venalities come to the public with such rapidity that we do not infrequently fail in a bid to track them. But this rapidity serves well the opprobrious cravings of our public officials. Let the scandals break today, they are not bothered – by tomorrow other scandals would break that would take away the attention of the citizens from those of today.
*President Buhari and IGP Idris
Yet, at a time of economic recession that has thrown up the overarching need for transparency and prudent management of fast-vanishing resources for effective governance, we would not allow an opportunity to conserve the nation’s money to slip by. One of such opportunities that we must seize is the recovery of some police vehicles that have been allegedly stolen.
We have been told that the office of the inspector-general of police has been stripped bare of its vehicles. The culprit has been identified as the former inspector-general of police Solomon Arase. He allegedly took away 24 vehicles of the police at the end of his tenure. Among these vehicles were two BMW 7 series, one armoured. The incumbent Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris first made the allegation in July. He lamented how the haemorrhage of police vehicles led to his using a rickety one to travel somewhere with President Muhammadu Buhari. When the latter saw it, he was so outraged that he asked him what he was doing with it.
Three months after, the allegation is still on. But this time, the allegation has been framed in a way to present Arase as admitting to stealing 24 vehicles, out of which 19 have been recovered. But Arase has insisted that he did not steal the vehicles in the first place. He has asked his successor Idris to make available the registration numbers of the vehicles allegedly stolen.
What is worrisome now is that Idris has not bothered to make the registration numbers available. Yet, this is what he must do to avoid being seen as only disparaging his predecessor to serve his selfish purposes. The public is interested in the truth: Were 24 vehicles really stolen by Arase? Have 19 been recovered from him? What is the outcome of the special panel Idris set up to investigate the matter? Since the issue has been brought to the public domain, the citizens must be informed of how it is resolved. After all, as Arase has said, Idris has access to him, he has his phone number with which to call him and ask for clarification on his handover notes. But since he did not do this, he must be ready to go the whole hog; he must make sure that the truth about the alleged missing vehicles is known to the public. If Idris’ claim is true, the police must release the registration numbers and recover the vehicles. The vehicles are needed to enhance the operational efficiency of the police, especially at a time funds would not be readily available to procure new ones.
Even if Arase is not disposed to releasing the vehicles, there are legal options open to the police to recover them. But if Idris fails to do this, then we should suspect that he is only making an unfounded allegation as a means of misappropriating the vehicles himself or giving the public an excuse for his anticipated poor performance. After all, we have become used to a situation where succeeding governors and other politicians would accuse their predecessors of leaving empty treasuries while the predecessors would reel out statistics of the huge amounts they have bequeathed to the citizens.
Yes, as Arase fears, his image is being tarnished as the drama of accusation and counter-accusation continues. But in the long run, it is Idris who would suffer more culpability in the whole saga. For as long as he cannot prove the allegation, it only shows that he has embarked on a self-destructive voyage of calumny. He has only exposed his tardy handling of his exalted office and the lack of cooperation in the nation’s security apparatuses that has paved the way for the proliferation of insecurity in the society. Security operatives undermine one another; they divulge strategies of their superiors and colleagues to criminals.
The new IGP must come to terms with the fact that what the citizens expect from him is to start policing from where his predecessor stopped. There are many security challenges that should occupy the mind of Idris now. As in the days of Arase, the police are still plagued by unprofessionalism. They abandon their duties and instead they are pre-occupied with extorting the citizens. They divert their energies to killing innocent citizens. They collude with criminals to rob those they are paid to protect.
Indeed, instead of dissipating his energy on delusive claims, Idris should be concerned with how to leave a legacy. He must rebuild the police in such a way that they would be alive to their responsibilities. He must have the vision of leaving the police that could be called by the citizens at night to repel armed robbers but who would not complain of being immobilised by a lack of fuel in their vehicles. He should fight for more allocation for the police so that their barracks and offices would cease looking like makeshift camps of refugees fleeing from strife-riven zones. He should make sure that the police have enough government funding so that they can procure modern weapons that would match the sophisticated ones of armed robbers.
Apart from regular crime, the police are being daily mocked by their inability to stop kidnapping. The challenge Idris has in this regard is how to get intelligence and prevent kidnapping before it happens. And if it happens at all, the police should be able to track down the kidnappers. The police should not allow the families of the abductees to pay ransom or some local vigilantes to rescue the kidnapped persons and only for them to claim the glory and recount how they fought valiantly to save the victims.
Again, through the planned recruitment of 10,000 police officers, the IGP now has the privilege of midwifing a new police force. He should make sure that only the best and qualified candidates and not the cronies of nepotistic politicians are allowed to infest the police. These are better responsibilities for Idris to discharge than inundating the public with unprovable allegations against his predecessor.
*Dr. Onomuakpokpo is on the Editorial Board of The Guardian

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