The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris issued a warning to Nigerians against denigrating the image of the police whose duty is to protect lives and property during a courtesy call on him by members of anti-terrorism civil rights organisation called, Nigerians Unite Against Terror, who came with a promise to assist in fighting terrorism and all other forms of violence in the country at the Force Headquarters on Friday in Abuja.
The NUAT team was led by its Convener, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin; Director of Publicity, Bako Abdul Usman; General Secretary, Prince Goodluck Obi and Director of Campaign, Huzayn Aliu Adams.
According to him, the image of the Nigeria police has improved going by the recent ranking by a Briton, Bob Arnold, whose independent assessment of the Nigeria Police Force “within the perception of the public”, gave a 98 per cent score.
“Arnold said this is wonderful because it has never been this wonderful and like I said when I went to Lagos, we the policemen, now have to improve on that performance”, he stressed.
Based on this assessment, Idris promised to set up a special committee comprising the police and members of the Civil Society Organisations to interface and work together towards working out a strategy on how to improve the public image of the police.
He said, “And that is the basic law of nature. If you continue to fight, you will never get any development from it. These are basic things because the police man is there to assist you to maintain law and order in the society, you don’t have any cause to hate him. It doesn’t make sense because these are the people I refer to as people who have the noble call.
“In our job, anywhere in the world, we are just there to protect lives and properties of the people. So the citizens don’t have any reason to detest the police. Most of these issues are as a result of the conduct of a few of us, those of us that unfortunately make the bad image of the police and the perception of the people.
“The perception just came up. Some people have never ever been in the police station before but they don’t want to hear the name of police. That is the perception and perception is not good. We need to address that perception, we also need to address our perception and our conducts, especially those police officers that decide to go outside the norms..
“I have that passion for humanity, when I went to the North East, the little things I have I said let us buy some things and impact positively on the people. It is good to see the vulnerable part of society, you will feel happy when you see them satisfied and the smiles on their faces. You should have that essence of humanity, we should be humane in whatever we do and I believe that is what should happen.
“If we put our hands together, we are going to address more of these issues, particularly the need for the public to appreciate our police force, the need for the police force also to consider the interest of the public. The fundamental human rights of every citizen of this country should be protected and we are the best institution that you will meet because we have a noble cause of protecting lives and properties of every citizen.
“We need to sit down and set up a panel; we are going to start a committee to interface on how to utilise our human resource because it is very important. It is good people hear from the CSOs who are not policemen. People should hear from you on how the public now see the police.
“People should give us the opportunity to prove ourselves, they will take it more serious from you. So I think we need to interface; the CSOs and the Nigerian police will need to work together. We will set up a working team, let us come out with a strategy on how to improve obviously the public image of the police.”
Idris said, the desire to cleanse the police of bad eggs necessitated the declaration of his assets before becoming IGP, adding that “every police officer must declare their assets.”
The IGP said, “We are are going to be very tough on our police officers who go outside our code of conduct. When I took over and told people that I am declaring my assets, it looked surprising, people took it as if I was doing something magic but that is what the law says. You cannot work without declaring your assets.
“You must declare your assets and as policemen we are the ones checking the vices, so we cannot be part of those that are increasing the vices in the society and I still stand by my word.
“I have declared my assets even before and after I became I-G of police because it is a constitutional requirement. I believe every police officer should do that. What kills most Nigerians is lack of contentment, you will see somebody amassing wealth that he and even his grandchildren do not need throughout their life time. I don’t know what drives people like that. For me, I believe that with contentment, you will have peace of mind.”
Idris said when he took over, he had promised to be guided by two major principles and police core value in line with international best practices and democratic policing.
“The principles are that the police should be humane, that we should respect other people; and we should not look at peoples faces or how they do before we can apply the law. The law covers everybody, whether you are rich or poor. That is why the Nigerian people have to start seeing why they need to appreciate the police, we are your best friends and that is why we say the police is always your friend,” he emphasised.
While warning against the continuous destruction of the image of the police, the IGP said the public should maintain the doctrine of reciprocity of respect.