Vanguard (Lagos)

28 August 2009

Nigeria: Okiro Pulled Out as IGP, Decries Society Dehumanization of Police Officers

Former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mike Mbama Okiro yesterday decried a situation where police officers who after service to their father land gets derided and dehumanized by the same society that saddled them with the responsibility.

Speaking after taking the salute at a farewell parade in his honour at the Eagle Square, Abuja which was witnessed by many dignitaries including the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike, Inspector General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo, Police Affairs minister, Senator Ibrahim Lemu and the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, Okiro regretted that "the Police officer as a public officer has to contend with a society that does not cherish the sacrifices of a public officer.

Okiro Out: Former Inspector General of Police Sir, Mike Okiro and his Wife at Send off ceremony by Nigeria Police held in Abuja Yesterday. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan

"Very conscious efforts are made to deride, dehumanize and demoralize the Police officer as if he is not a product of the same society, simply because he is a public officer. The unkindest cut is the attack of a public officer after he has left office with the unholy belief that he is no longer in a position to defend himself. The inalienable fact is that police officers should be respected, encouraged and assisted by the society they represent".

While urging the federal authorities to give his successor, the enabling environment to carry out his functions effectively, Okiro said, a situation where Section 215 (2) of the constitution gives operational control of the force to the IGP and states that failure or success of the police is yardstick for assessing performance of the IG, yet, he is not given the responsibility of posting his men (especially that of Command CP's), is detrimental to success.

According to him, "Section 215 (1)(b) of the constitution which is the grand norm states that the Commissioner of Police of each state of the federation shall be appointed by the Police Service Commission. To ensure that honour or blame is given to whom it is due, the PSC should not post police officer without recommendation of the IGP since the IGP knows his men more than any other authority in the federation".

"In Section 30, of the third schedule of the constitution, the PSC has powers to dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over all police officers except the IGP. Is it humanly or administratively possible for the PSC sitting in Abuja to be aware of and discipline a Constable who has exhibited some misconduct in Gbaramatu Police Division in Delta State?

Regarding discipline in the force, Okiro said, "Discipline which always remained the bedrock of the Nigeria Police force is gradually and steadily being eroded. The IGP has been given responsibilities by law and the same law created impediments.

These are some of the challenges we face in policing Nigeria in a democracy. Constitutional lawyers and the House Committee on review of the Nigeria constitution should therefore come to the rescue of the police by harmonizing section 216 (10) and section 30 (b) of the third schedule", he said.

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