Just when you thought respect for the Nigeria Police couldn't get any lower, Boko Haram proves you wrong. For an institution that represents the heart of law enforcement and security, Nigerian Police has failed to thrive. Unfortunately, this malfunction is not isolated but is actually a manifestation of the degeneration in the larger society. The cosmetic attention to this open festering wound is a decent barometric appraisal of the corruption, incompetence, cronyism and other societal ills plaguing the nation.
Corruption in the Nigeria Police force is legendary across the rank and file. (A former IG was once convicted and "jailed"- if you call idling in a hospital bed, jail.) For a few kobo on the Naira, undesirables employ the dexterity of local tailors to fashion for them replica of Nigeria police uniforms complete with rank and stripes. Suited out in these uniforms, they unleash mayhem on hapless citizens. Hoodlums and robbers routinely operate in police uniforms, to get additional mileage on their operation and ridicule an already demoralized police force. Getting help on time from the police is rare and may even spell more trouble for the victim when it shows up.
No institution has been maligned as much as the Nigeria police, although not totally unearned. Small wonder that most police stations put up defensive posters warning "if you don't like the police, call a thug next time you need assistance". However, heaping blame upon the Nigeria police achieves nothing. For an institution that is ill-equipped, undertrained and blatantly corrupt, the Nigeria police are a wonder to behold at work. Doing the impossible with so little, Nigeria police hardly impress anyone and often bungles its duties. What the bombing of the Police headquarters exposed was the sheer cosmetic window dressing that government after government continues give to the Police force. Perhaps, now somebody will finally ask what happen to the billions of Naira in Police Equipment funds of the Kenny Martins saga.
Before now, as locale criminality upped its audacity with every operation, Nigeria police responded with a lot of saber rattling and assuaged the public fears with empty promises of justice. Now that the tactic has been demystified, perhaps a return to serious policing is in the offing. Listing the needed reforms for the police force is a trite exercise since volumes have been written and are probably gathering dust in some archive. Maybe its time to take a second look at state police option with concentration on a central regulatory organ.
To be sure, Ministry of Justice also needs to be revamped to complement any repositioning of law enforcement agencies. Justice must be done and seen to be done to restore the nation's hope in its judicial system. For example; the US Justice Department in America is like the "Holy of Holies". Not just because it supervises the law enforcement agencies but oversee the dispensation of justice irrespective of positions, individual or organization. It is one of the most powerful institutions in the United States. Nobody, including the US president, would want their name mentioned on the same line with the US Justice Department, except for an award.
Reforming the Nigeria Police is so urgent that to engage in hand wriggling is nothing short of baiting a greater disaster. For an individual that has been there and understand the system better than most can fathom, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (party politics aside) may be a good choice to spear head such a reform.
Make no mistake about it, bombs as a currency of terrorism is here and only a concerted strategy that ignore Party politics and cronyism can curtail it.