The Nigeria Police through the office of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) or the Presidency issues directives and special orders to address matters affecting the institution or citizens. But many of these orders only end on paper and are not fully enforced.
While some orders concern the Police’s internal dealings like welfare and operational formations, others relate to interaction between the Force and the general public. Irrespective, a review of these orders begs answers to proper enforcement of directives and orders given, particularly on the part of the officers.
Although the police force’s operations are dictated by the Police Act, special orders and directives concerning the internal operations or conduct of the Force always arise to solve emergency demands depending on the peculiar circumstances.
A history of abandoned special orders and directives
The IGP exercises independent command over the police force and performs any other function prescribed by national legislation.
One of the most recurring orders given by the IGP is the ban of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit (SARS) whose activities have come under strong criticism from the public for involvement in widespread human abuse and extrajudicial killings.
While the order to ban SARS as a Police unit was adhered to by the disbandment of the unit, a recent report shows that illegal detention, unjust torture, extortion, and extrajudicial killings by the police which sparked the #EndSARS protest still exists and happens daily.
In July 2021, the IGP gave another directive during a meeting with top Police officers, to all state commissioners to ‘clear’ every impounded vehicle in Police custody. In addition, he ordered the suspension of tint permits and the issuance of spy number plates across the country. According to him, “police premises should not be junkyards as is currently the case.”
However, a physical survey in October around police stations in Abuja, the country’s capital, shows that the directives on release of impounded vehicles have not been strictly followed as cars were still found littered around station premises.
For the tint permits, the IGP in another statement explained that the ban on issuance of permits does not apply to vehicles with factory-fitted tinted glasses. “Yes, we understand that there are usually issues with policies and their implementation. The directive on tinted glass is not about the factory-fitted ones, but those that are artificially made to cover the whole screen.”
“If you look at the factory-fitted tinted glasses, you can still see through them and if there is any need for the driver to open the doors, the security officers would know. But those that are not factory-fitted are completely covered so that no one knows who or what they carry. Those are the ones the ban is targeted at,” The IGP said.
He noted that the clarification was necessary to curtail abuses associated with the excess actions of some of his officers, cashing on innocent car owners with factory-fitted tinted glass. He added that measures are ongoing to address the perceived excesses.
Another directive which has been notoriously disrespected is the suspension of Police checkpoints. The IGP during an interview with Channels Television in Jan. 2021, restated that the ban on checkpoints by the Police was still in place, adding that any officer found doing so was performing an illegal duty.
Despite the order by the IGP and a follow-up order by the Lagos state commissioner of police, a report in June showed activities of about 15 illegal roadblocks between the Badagry-Seme corridor of the state.
In another report, Mohammed Koko, the acting managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority in August, 2021 accused the police of erecting multiple checkpoints at the entrances of the ports to extort money from citizens.
The disrespect for orders and directives is not a crime that only the Police itself is guilty of; sometimes, it is a victim of it too. President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari in June during a visit to Lagos State for the inauguration of projects, informed journalists of his directives for the upward review of police salaries and benefits.
Buhari, who commended the leadership of the Force for their efforts and the reforms being implemented in the area of police pensions also said, “I have directed the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to carry out an upward review of Police salaries and benefits.”
A top police officer who spoke to HumAngle said, “Nobody is talking about the president’s directive to the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, nobody is crying out on behalf of the police. Nothing has been done about the directive.”
He further said the non-implementation of the Presidential directives on increment of salary and benefits for the police officers is one reason their morale across the country is low.
“The police enjoyed upward review of their pay package under late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Goodluck Jonathan commenced the payment, or Obasanjo did the review and Yar’Adua commenced the payment. This is what we are still receiving till tomorrow,” he said.
But, faulting the presidential order, a law Professor, Chidi Odinkalu, said that the President acted outside of his power to unilaterally give a salary increment. In his argument, it is within the ambit of the police commission and not a unilateral act of the government.
Unimplemented directives crippling discipline and morale in the force.
This attitude of partial or total disregard of constitutional directives, orders from the IGP and presidency, shows that the force lacks requisite discipline and trust in the system of administration.
Also that the principle of command chain in the force is not totally aligned, such that the officers of the force would unanimously decide to disregard orders from superior officers just like the instances of road blocks, extortions, and extrajudicial tortures and killing with shoulder edge certainty that after all nothing would be done.
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