Sunday 4 March 2012

New IGP on Illegal Road Blocks; Policing Nigeria and Challenges of Leadership

Ag. IGP Mohammed Dikko Abubakar

Over the past several years, the reported crime and the fear of crime have increased sharply in Nigeria, including the recent spate of terrorism. These phenomena, together with others, have focused attention on the police and their role in the society. Nigerians have lost confidence in their police because of corruption, brutality and abuse of power.  The ever presence of police on Nigerian road everyday is not about preventing crime but about extorting money from the road users.

However, the leadership change in the Nigerian Police Force is bringing a sigh of relief to Nigerians who face harassment, intimidation, and coercion, paying “illegal toll fee” everyday on Nigerian roads. The Nigerian police usually mounts illegal road blocks to extort money from the motorists under the guise of preventing crimes. The unauthorized police barriers on Nigerian highways have in most cases caused fatal accidents and there are cases where policemen have intentionally or accidentally killed innocent drivers with their guns because the drivers failed to pay unlawful mandatory fee at police barriers.

The newly appointed Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Dikko Abubakar ordered the immediate removal of all illegitimate road blocks. Of course, in the last two weeks, the illegal police barriers have disappeared on most of Nigerian roads. The IGP Abubakar's action is a good step in a right direction towards the repositioning of the Nigerian Police Force.

Although, people still doubt the sustainability of this accomplishment but the IGP's action is a pointer to the fact that a newly anticipated community-oriented policing is possible; and a discipline leadership at all levels of the police formations is highly critical to the success of the agency's reform agenda. Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve common goals. The police organization in Nigeria needs a leader who could influence the agency to achieve its goal and this should be one of the targets of Mr. Abubakar.

Policing plays a critical role in maintaining the security and safety of Nigerian society. Until recently, however, that has not been its major focus. How organizations are structured, managed, and led have a direct impact on the level and quality of services provided to the Nigerian public. As public needs have changed, so are the structure, management, and leadership of police organizations affected

The need for all law enforcement agencies to hold members accountable for their actions and to impose high standards of conduct for their employees to consistently achieve success constitutes one of the most important aspects of the profession.

According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, it is the fundamental duty of a law enforcement officer, to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence and disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality, and justice. Therefore, the police must be accountable to the public.

In conclusion, it is only a discipline and well equipped police organization that could confront and overcome the current security challenges in Nigeria, including the present scourge of terrorism. Policing is a combination of tasks and responsibilities that are constantly changing. In the current era of terrorism, there are no easy solutions other than a genuine transformation. Those who lead police agencies must be able to project into the future and anticipate needs and societal directions. Therefore, policing must open its closed system and recognize that in order to function successfully in today's environment and culture, it needs information and data inputs from sources other than police. Policing is part of a larger, global society. It must recognize its ever-expanding and important role and constantly seek ways to prepare for and adapt to the changing times.


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