Nigerians have shown concerns over the increasing number of orderlies and escorts deployed to private businessmen, political appointees, actresses and even their children for security protection at expense of citizens.
In traffic situations, ‘the big man or woman’, or their children and nannies, could be seen seated in the vehicles at the back. Trucks in a quasi-military motorcade trail them. Inside are police officers, on secondment to these Very Important Persons (VIPs). At traffic bottlenecks, these officers, armed with AK-47 rifles, slap bonnets of nearby cars, dishing orders to other road users: “Move. Clear. Give way”.
But Nigerians are bewailing these extra guards of VIPs, while other citizens are left to fend for themselves.
Apart from violating the dignity of ordinary men, citizens are bewailing the appropriation of available manpower required for general country policing by a few, especially with the low ratio of policemen to citizens.
According to the United Nations, there ought to be one police officer for every 450 persons for effective policing. Nigeria, with a population estimated at 206,139,589, will therefore require about 458,087 policemen to adequately police the nation.
Unfortunately, the act of deploying large numbers of security officers to the prominent, VIPs, and private businessmen continues, despite the present manpower of the Nigerian police, calculated to be about 400,000 men and women, which is still not enough compared to the numbers recommended by the UN.
Recall that former Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mike Okiro, had recently bewailed that about 150,000 out of the 400,000 police personnel are deployed to private individuals.
Also, former IGP, Mohammed Adamu, had in a move to contain the threat before his retirement, directed the withdrawal of policemen attached to VIPs across the nation.
Adamu’s order was contained in a wireless message sent virtually to zonal AIGs and command CPs with signal number DTO 210900/19/2020.
The signal was also sent to all police formations over the country, with warning that any commander who disobeyed this order would face the consequences.
However, that order and others before it, till date, didn’t see the dawn of the day.
Nigerians, who spoke to Journalists condemned the practice of unlawful use of police escort by private businessmen, depicting it as unfair to the ordinary Nigerians.
They noted that it is not fair to mount such pressure on the state force, and that such energy when deployed to general policing will affect the level of Insecurity in the nation.
They stressed that it could further describe the VIPs as the only set of people worthy of protection by police; the implication, which they disclosed, is that the ordinary Nigerian may resort to self-help and that ordinary Nigerians need to be given a sense of policing.
An Abuja based lawyer, Akamihe Ephraim, noted that the use of police by VIPs has effectively reduced the capacity of police towards protecting citizens.
According to him, a situation where one VIP is given about 15 to 20 officers when Nigerians are left to themselves cannot be justified in any way.
He said: “ To make matters worse even the tight security carried by the VIPs has not also prevented them from attacks because several VIPs have at different times been attacked notwithstanding the retinue of security personnel attached to them. So the best thing to do is to recruit the requisite number of security personnel needed to protect citizens and their assets.”
An educationalist, Ogweche Adogwuche Nicholas, stated that the issue could result in security breaches.
According to him, the ordinary Nigerian needs to be guarded as well. He noted that if the energy of the police force is too much tilted to protecting the rich, the poor will suffer lack of protection and insecurity will continue.
Angela Balong, an operator of a Point of Sale (POS) machine in the outskirts of Abuja, noted that the implications of continued use of police protection and the increased detachment of police to VIPs and top politicians could result in loss of confidence in the police.
A stylist, Emmanuel Saawua, bewailed that VIP’s protection is given too much attention by the police, thereby limiting their concentration on the general policing of ordinary Nigerians.
He emphasized that providing security to only the rich would pass the wrong message to the average Nigerian that lives of ordinary people don’t matter.
Reacting, spokesperson for the Police Service Commission (PSC), Mr. Ikechukwu Ani, disclosed that he would not comment on the issue given the recent insecurity situations in the country.
But police spokesman, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi said: “We have those VIPs that are entitled to police orderlies and escort or guards, so we are duty-bound to provide for them, statutorily.
“Then we have certain VIPs who are vulnerable and could be exposed to attacks or dangers, in demand and after due assessment, we provide for them. We have been conscious of the fact that some individuals might want to have policemen around them, even when they are not entitled to them, so we screen applications before deployment.
“However, we are looking at how we can still further reduce the number of our men attached to individuals. We are working on this. The audit is on and we will act as and when due. In the same vein, we make sure that such deployment doesn’t affect our statutory operational engagements. So, such attachments to VIPs are not at the detriment of our constitutional duties at all.”