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In spite of the ill-conceived and often misplaced public outcry and criticism against the activities of the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force, the force has continued to perform its statutory roles and responsibility of busting some high profile crimes in the country.

It is an established fact that inadequate funding has, over the years, hampered police optimum operational efficiency in the country. It is therefore gratifying to note that the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, had, on June 24, 2019, signed the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill (“Police Trust Fund Act”) into law. The enactment of the long-awaited Nigeria Police Trust Fund by the President has therefore widened the sources of revenue for the operations of the Nigeria Police.

The Act now provides for an annual contribution of 0.5% from the Federation Account, monies appropriated by the National Assembly in the budget to meet the objectives of the Act, monies derived from the investment made by the Trust Fund, 0.005% on Companies Income Tax, grants, donations and endowments from private individuals, aids and grants from the international agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector in the country.

The Police Trust Fund was established by the Federal Government as a special intervention fund to finance necessary expenditures of the Nigeria Police Force.

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The prime purpose of the fund is to address some of the challenges faced by the Nigeria Police Force such as acute shortage of ammunition and lack of hi-tech policing equipment, decayed infrastructure and inadequate manpower. The Federal Government is equally determined to assist the Force in deploying the use of cutting-edge technology like smart surveillance vehicles, armored personnel carriers and anti-riot water cannons, amongst others, in fighting kidnapping, armed banditry and other crimes in the country.

It is interesting to note that the Federal and State Governments, corporate bodies and various international agencies have graciously invested so heavily in procuring some of the high-powered crime-fighting equipment for the Nigeria Police Force. The supervisory Police Affairs Ministry has also embarked on training and retraining of men and officers of the force while salaries and remunerations has increased and paid promptly. All these measures are aimed at promoting staff welfare and operational efficiency.

For example, Nigerian President, through the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi on the 12th August, 2020, commissioned the newly-constructed Police Mobile Force Training College, Ende Hills, Nassarawa State. This is yet another pragmatic effort of the present administration aimed at increasing the capacity-building needs and training of Tactical Squads for ever expanding operations and deployment needs of the Nigeria Police Force.

It is pleasing to note that the huge investment made into the Nigeria Police Force by the Nigerian government, corporate bodies and international agencies are beginning to yield the desired dividends, judging from the intensity of and proactive measures taken by the force operations in recent times in combating crime in the country.

While time and space will not permit, in this piece, for a roll call of all of these high profile cases, many of which have been widely reported by the media, a few of these high profile cases will be mentioned here not for the purposes of praise singing but for putting the record in the right perspective.

In a recent report released by the Ministry of Police Affairs, it was affirmed that, from August 2019 till date, the Nigeria Police has recorded tremendous achievements in internal security management, crime detection and control across the country.

In the period under review, a total number of 1126 suspects of murder or culpable homicide, 3307 armed robbery and 2352 kidnapping suspects, 2744 suspected cultists were arrested and prosecuted by the Nigeria Police Force operations across the country. In the bid to mop up illegal arms and ammunition in the country, the force operations have recovered 20,375 assorted caliber of ammunition while 1835 stolen vehicles were recovered and 1661 kidnap victims were rescued.

We must also commend the dexterity with which the Force operations have cracked the case of the notorious “Billionaire Kidnapper”, Chukwudi Dumee Onuamadike, popularly known as Evans in Lagos State. Evans, who had evaded arrest and was declared wanted by Lagos, Edo and Anambra States, was eventually arrested in Lagos by the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT in the weekend of 10-11 June, 2017. This is one case, reminiscent of Lawrence Anini robbery case of the early 80s in Nigeria, that has attracted so much media attention locally and internationally.

Also worthy of mention is the well-coordinated efforts of the force operations leading to the re-arrest of another kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume on August 19, 2020 at his hideout in Kano State. This is yet another classical reference to Nigeria Police fight against crime. The police had re-launched a manhunt for Wadume since 6th August, 2019 after the unfortunate incident at Ibi Local Government in Taraba State in which soldiers killed the three police officers who had arrested and were transporting the suspect to Jalingo, leading to his escape.

The Offa bank robbery incident of April 5, 2018 which led to the death of 33 people is another high-profile case that has generated public uproar. The case was particularly daunting for the police because some high-ranking political gladiators were alleged as accomplices to the crime. Some of the criminals were later confirmed political thugs of some prominent politicians in Kwara State. The case was eventually cracked and all the culpable perpetrators were apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law.

Worthy of applaud is the speed with which the murder of the second daughter of Afenifere Leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Funke Olakunrin, was resolved by the Nigeria Police.Late Funke Olakunrin was attacked and murdered by unknown gunmen between Kajola and Ore, along Ondo – Ore road in Ondo State on July 12, 2019. The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu had earlier deployed the Commissioner of Police, (CP) in charge of the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad, (FSARS), Mr. Fimihan Adeoye to coordinate a massive manhunt for the killers. The suspected killers were arrested on April 4, 2020 and brought before the law to face prosecution. It was one case that really put a question mark on the police efficiency and nearly pushed the nation to the brink in view of the public furore it generated, particularly in the South West.

The Special Tactical Squad of the Nigeria Police have successfully apprehended a dare-devil seven (7-man) robbery gang that has killed innocent Nigerians, six policemen and carted away several millions of naira in separate bank robberies in the South-West States of Ondo and Ekiti between 2019 and 2020.

It should be noted that twenty-three (23) other suspects were also arrested by the Police operatives for their involvement in various crimes including armed robbery, kidnapping, illegal possession of prohibited firearms and car snatching at gunpoint. Police Operatives attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) have arrested thirty-five (35) suspects across the country for their active involvement and participation in series of kidnapping, armed robbery and other heinous crimes across the country. The arrest is sequel to the unrelenting efforts by the Force to rid the country of heinous criminals and to get justice for victims of these crimes, amongst other offences.

It is gratifying to note that following the directive by the Inspector General of Police, the redeployment of the crack detectives from the Intelligence Response Team and the Special Tactical Squad, STS, of the Intelligence Bureau, Abuja, to assist the Oyo State Police Command, the suspected serial killer, Sunday Shodipe, who on August 11, 2020 escaped from police custody in Ibadan was, few days after, re-arrested on Sunday 23rd August, 2020 by the Nigeria Police.

The cases cited here are just few of the numerous high profile criminal cases that have been effectively busted by the respective units of the Nigeria Police.

We must appreciate the fact that human societies all over the world, due to advancement in science and technology, have become more and more sophisticated. Consequently, fighting crimes and criminalities also becomes more complex. Nigeria, as a member of the committee of nations and in response to these sophistication and complexities can never be an exception. As the spate of bank robberies, kidnap, rape, cultism and banditry in many parts of the country in recent times continue to task the operational capacity of the Nigeria Police; the force is not relenting in its efforts at tackling the menace of these criminal activities across the country.
Despite the harrowing conditions in which the officers and men of the Nigeria Police perform their duty, they, at most times gallantly rise up to the challenges of keeping our societies free of criminal elements. They at least deserve some commendation.

It is regrettable, therefore, to note that the speed at which many Nigerians condemn infractions by some police personnel is not proportional with efforts made at appreciating the gallant and exemplary performance of many dedicated police officers.

In my opinion, the Nigeria Police Force will rank among the best in the world if given the required equipment and motivation to perform their duties and responsibilities.

A well-equipped, motivated and appreciated police force will not only energize and encourage the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force, it will greatly promote and advance their operational efficiency.

In the next article, I shall share my thoughts on the proposed community policing and the emergence of the various local security organizations springing up across the country.

-Bola Bakare

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