INSUFFICIENT MANPOWER: POLICE SETTLE FOR PART-TIME SPECIAL CONSTABLES

2019-05-11
THE PUNCH Newspaper

As part of measures to check rising insecurity in the face of insufficient manpower in Nigeria’s police force, the Force has concluded plans to engage thousands of Special Constables to work with conventional policemen in communities.

The recruitment of the special officers, which would be announced any moment from now, has received presidential backing and it is expected to start in Kaduna and other northern states where the traditional emirate and district structures support the system.

It was further learnt that the police had presented the idea to the state governors who were said to have bought into the scheme.

The men, who will not be armed, are expected to handle charge room and administrative duties, crowd control, accident scene duties, alternative dispute resolution and other less sensitive and less risky functions. They are expected to dress in police uniform but with a different force number to distinguish them from the regular cops.

It was learnt that respectable members of the society like pastors, imams, teachers, lawyers, journalists and responsible youths would be considered for the volunteer job.

The Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, confirmed the plan and explained that the candidates for the constabulary would be between the ages of 21-50, and must be physically fit and gainfully employed.

Eight-hour shift: State commands fail to comply with IG’s directive two weeks after

The news of special constables came just as investigation by Saturday PUNCH revealed that many state commands across the country had failed to comply with the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu’s order asking police formations across the country to immediately reverse to the traditional eight-hour, three-shift standard.

Findings by our correspondents across many states revealed that inadequate manpower and growing insecurity had forced the state commands to disregard the IG’s directive.

Our correspondents who visited police divisions across the country gathered from divisional police officers and some senior officers that their failure to comply with the directive was due to inadequate personnel and the rising insecurity across the country.

The IGP had, while ordering the change in the shift structure on April 25, explained that the increasing case of misuse of firearms by policemen could be directly linked to their work-related stress and emotional conditions, which he said affects their rationality.

Delivering a speech at the maiden conference of Heads of Nigeria Police Medical Facilities held at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, he therefore directed an immediate switch from the 12-hour, two-shift work structure to eight-hour, three shift schedule.

He had said, “Indeed, arguments have been raised that the resonating incidents of misuse of firearms and extra-judicial actions by police personnel often result directly from work-related stress and emotional conditions which disorient their rationality.

“In consideration of this, I have ordered that with immediate effect, the shift duty structure of the Nigeria Police, which is currently a 12-hour, two-shift system be reverted to the traditional eight-hour, three-shift standard.

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“This directive is specifically informed by the need to address a major age-long occupational stress which long hours of duty engender among personnel in the Nigeria Police Force and which occasions depression and abuse of power and other unprofessional conduct.

“For purpose of clarity, henceforth, no police personnel should be made to perform any duty exceeding eight hours within a space of 24 hours unless there is a local or national emergency.”

But, despite the instruction that the directive should take immediate effect, police divisions have yet to implement the order.

In Ondo State, for example, policemen across different divisions told Saturday PUNCH that though they were delighted with the IGP’s directive, they were still operating the 12-hour shift.

A junior policeman who craved anonymity for fear of being reprimanded said, “I can tell you our command has yet to obey the order. For instance, I resume by 6pm and close by 6am the following day. It is not easy. At times, when I’m about to close in the morning, they would assign another special duty which you can’t complain about.”

A senior officer, who would also not disclose his identity, said, “We have small number of policemen in this command. I think the force should recruit more personnel because we are not enough and the work is killing us.”

In Taraba State, checks by one of our correspondents showed the old shift schedule was still in place.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, David Misal, said the order had been communicated to divisional headquarters and that they were expected to comply. But when told that the order had yet to be implemented, he said, “I will do my findings and get back to you,” which he had yet to do as of press time.

In Adamawa State, the directive has also yet to take effect. Interactions with policemen at the command headquarters and police divisions revealed that inadequate manpower had prevented the command from implementing the directive.

The police PRO in the state, Othman Abubakar, declined comment on the matter, saying it was an internal matter of the police.

In Ogun State, police officers told Saturday PUNCH that the directive was laudable but not achievable due to the prevailing situation. “We have been yearning for such an arrangement but due to inadequate manpower, the policy might remain on paper,” one of them said.

When confronted with the findings, the PPRO in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the implementation would require some reshuffling.

In Kano State, policemen in different divisions told Saturday PUNCH they were still running the 12-hour, two shift work schedule due to inadequate personnel. The spokesperson for the command, DSP Abdullahi Haruna, however, said the police in the state would soon comply with the directive.

In Gombe State, the directive is far from being implemented. A junior officer in the command said, “You know we are a regimented organisation but for this directive to be fully operational in Gombe, the IGP must first recruit. If it is adhered to by strictly, we will live longer.”

The command’s spokesperson, SP Mary Obed Malum, however, said the order of the IGP was in operation.

Also in Sokoto, the order has yet to be implemented, according to policemen who confided in one of our correspondents. The command’s spokesperson, Mohammad Sadiq, said, “This is an internal issue and I am sure the command hierarchy is working it out. You will agree with me that we have to reorganise our human resource to be able to implement the eight-hour shift.”

In Kebbi State, the PPRO, Nafiu Abubakar, declined comment on the matter but findings revealed the order had yet to take effect.

In Benue State, the directive has yet to be implemented, but the police spokesperson in the state, Catherine Anene, said the directive of the IGP was already being worked on.

In Kwara State, findings revealed the implementation had been stifled by inadequate personnel in the command. The state PPRO, Ajayi Okasanmi, said although the command was experiencing manpower shortage, the state Police Commissioner, Mr Kayode Egbetokun, had deployed 30 per cent of personnel from the administration department at the headquarters to complement those on the field.

In Katsina State, however, findings revealed that there had been some level of compliance with the directive. The command spokesperson, Gambo Isah, said, “We have implemented the directive and our officers and men are coping.”

In Osun State, the order has yet to take effect. A police sergeant attached to a division within Osogbo Area Command said the current 12-hour shift might not end soon due to personnel shortage.

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In Niger State, findings revealed that the lack of adequate manpower had made the implementation impossible. A senior police officer, who pleaded anonymity, said the command did not have enough personnel to properly carry out the assignment.

“The Police Force needs to employ more policemen for the task ahead,” he added.

In Plateau State, there had been partial compliance in few divisions while others have yet to comply due to shortage of personnel.

A sergeant at the ‘C’ Division in Jos told Saturday PUNCH that nothing had changed in the division regarding the IGP’s directive.

The PPRO, Mathias Tyopev, however said the state command was doing everything possible to implement the new schedule.

“We are doing it in phases and it is a gradual process,” he added.

In Oyo State, even though the state Commissioner of Police had deployed personnel from the command headquarters to different divisions, the order had yet to be fully implemented due to personnel shortage.

The command’s spokesperson, Olugbenga Fadeyi, said, “We are working gradually to make sure that the directive is fully complied with.”

In Lagos State, policemen who spoke to Saturday PUNCH said their divisions had yet to comply with the directive. A sergeant who did not want his name mentioned said, “I can confirm to you that the new shift has not started anywhere in Lagos because I’m in touch with my colleagues in other divisions.

The PPRO in the state, DSP Bala Elkana, said the IGP’s order had been obeyed, adding that the processes involved in changing to the new system had made the compliance gradual.

Special constables to undergo intensive training

Meanwhile, the police spokesman, Mba, has disclosed that the constables after receiving training in police colleges would work on part-time basis with regular policemen, adding that this would free up more police manpower to deal with serious operation and other security issues.

Mba stated, “Our focus is to pursue a technologically-driven Police Force to reduce the number of policemen on the road. So, we have decided to introduce the special constabulary system which involves the recruitment of voluntary citizens to work as part-time policemen.

“They would be recruited from their immediate constituency where they would work with the conventional policemen.

The part-time policemen, Mba noted, would not be paid, adding that they could work at the police station taking complaints and assisting with traffic control.

Undercover operatives deployed to infiltrate crime gangs, trace sources of firearms

The Force spokesman also explained that the undercover operatives being deployed in states were meant to infiltrate crime gangs, trace their sources of firearms and assist in disrupting their operations and mop up their arms while drying up the arms sources.

“Part of the job of the undercover operatives is to track illicit arms and their sources, disrupt the flow of arms and assist in mop-up operation, knowing full well that firearm is the oxygen that fuels insurgency, banditry and kidnapping. If the undercover operatives failed in their primary roles (of preventing arms flow and commission of crime), they can help in following up and arresting the gang members,” he added.

The DCP said crime and criminality would reduce if the force cut off firearms supply and mop-up the weapons in circulation.

Mba revealed that the Force Intelligence Bureau had been given autonomy to enable it to provide actionable intelligence for the police.

Reacting to the failure of the state police commands to implement the three-shift work mode three weeks after it was proposed by the acting Inspector-General, Mohammed Adamu, Mba said the police leadership would not go back on the plan.

He stated that the force needed more manpower for full implementation of the initiative, adding that in the short term, excess policemen were being redeployed from some states to needy commands.

Police to recruit 15,000-25,000 men annually for five years -PSC

Our correspondent learnt that the long-term plan was for the recruitment of between 15,000 and 25,000 personnel annually for the next five years.

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The Police Service Commission spokesman, Ikechukwu Ani, said the commission had earlier received presidential approval for recruitment of 10,000 men, adding that the agency was expecting permission to engage between 15,000 and 25,000 police officers every year for the next five years to fill the manpower gap in the Nigeria Police Force.

 

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