…Says Army’s “Operation Udoka” in South East is welcome
The Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma has made a strong case for improved funding of the police in Nigeria, proposing that a bill should emanate from the National Assembly on how to go about it.
He spoke on Monday at the opening ceremony of the Conference and Retreat for senior police officers which held at Landmark Event Centre, New Owerri, where he further proposed increased participation of the State Governments, the multinational companies and private sector operators in the funding of the police for better effect.
Also same day, Governor Uzodimma said that the concept of “Operation Udoka” by the Military to rid the South East of crimes and criminality is a welcome idea as long as those who will drive it should be properly educated, equipped and guided to operate within rules of international engagement.
He told the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher G. Musa and his entourage on a courtesy call on him at the Government House Owerri that the sustainability of members of the proposed “Operation Udoka’ requires that they must be sincere and honest in discharging their duties.
The Chief of Defence Staff was accompanied by the GOC 82 Division, Enugu and other top ranking officers in the military.
Governor Uzodimma told the CDS that “sit-at-home is not the major problem now in South East, but what the people are suffering from is fear of the unknown resulting from experiences of what happened at the beginning of the banditry, violence and mayhem in the State.”
He appealed to the army and other security agencies to do all within their reach to eradicate banditry, vandalism and kidnapping and help to restore peace in Imo State and Southeast in general.
On the part of the State Government, the Governor assured of getting the buy in of the citizens to cooperate with the security to restore peace.
He requested the army to continue to work hard to reduce the spate of Crude oil theft to the barest minimum, “bring back the crude oil production to its highest,” saying that “this is possible through the combined efforts of Armed Forces and the police working together.”
The Governor reminded the Defence Chief that “it is not true that the only news that comes out of Imo State is banditry, criminality and violence but lots of other positive news also come from the State.”
While he commended the Army for their efforts in containing banditry, violence, kidnapping and other vices in Imo State and other Southeast States in general, the Governor regretted that some of their men have had to pay the supreme price while carrying out their duties.
He lauded the synergy between all the security agencies in Imo State, which he said has yielded a lot of positive results in their operation.
Earlier, General Musa said he came to Imo to see the troops in the State to ensure they do their duties by “observing the rules of engagement,” and “to be part and support the ongoing Police Conference in Imo State and to reaffirm that we are one in the fight and security of Nigeria.”
He said he was aware of the activities of the criminal elements in Imo State and Southeast in general and assured the Governor that the military is “tackling them to achieve total peace and preserve unity of Nigeria.”
He congratulated the Governor on what he said is the remarkable improvement in the development of the State, adding that “most causes of restiveness and crime and other vices stem from lack of good governance.” He thanked the Governor for giving Imo people good governance.
The CDS appreciated the Governor for his numerous assistance to the Army and other security agencies, noting that “democracy can only thrive in the sphere of good governance.”
While General Musa said that “the Army will never tolerate any attempt at truncating the democracy in Nigeria,” he announced the establishment of the “Operation Udoka’ to help flush out the activities of bandits and stop the sit-at-home menace in the Southeast.
He assured of professionalism among the security agencies, saying that “the security leadership will not tolerate any infractions by any of their men because their men are expected to be part of the solution and not of the problems.”
He further expressed gratitude and appreciation President Ahmed Bola Tinubu for his assistants to all the security agencies.
He also wished Governor Uzodimma the very best in the upcoming governorship election in Imo State and promised that “the security agencies will provide all necessary measures that will guarantee free, fair and credible elections.”
At the Police Conference and Retreat with the theme: Fostering economic prosperity, social integration and political development through enhanced internal security mechanism, Governor Uzodimma told the galaxy of police chiefs, key officers from sister agencies and other guests that the perception that the Nigerian Police do well outside the country and perform poorly in the country should be of concern to all.
In his remarks, Governor Uzodimma thanked the police leadership for their choice of Imo State for the event and commended the police for their commitment to peace in Nigeria in general and Imo State in particular, saying “working in concert with other security agencies, the police demonstrated an uncommon commitment in the discharge of their constitutional duties.”
“Regrettably, some officers paid the supreme price in the course of this onerous assignment. Imo people, and indeed all Nigerians will remain eternally grateful to them for their gallantry and invaluable sacrifice. My administration will continue to stand by the families of such fallen heroes.
“The Imo example clearly underscores the critical role the police play in the maintenance of law and order in our dear country, Nigeria. This is why I consider your theme for this conference, to wit: ‘Fostering national unity through enhanced internal security mechanism,’ very apt.”
Governor Uzodimma said that an institution like the police is, therefore, a sine qua non for national unity because its primary, constitutional duty is to keep the country safe, insisting that because national unity is best fostered in an atmosphere of peace, “National unity cannot thrive in an atmosphere of violence and criminality.”
Governor Uzodimma who highlighted the challenges that cause the police not to perform optimally in Nigeria as against their performance outside, solicited for better attention to their pay, welfare and funding.
In bringing to the fore the issue of police pay, the Governor said it has become a recalling decimal and that the time has come to deal with it once and for all.
He challenged the officers to use the Retreat to look at all proposals on the police pay, welfare and funding.
Governor Uzodimma said: “For some time, there had been debates as to what we pay our policemen and other welfare packages. Even last week, some senators canvassed increased salaries and other welfare packages for our policemen. I can’t agree less. I know that there is an insurance scheme for our policemen. But, I don’t know if the amount being paid to bereaved families is adequate enough. However, I am confident that the police high command and the federal government are capable of responding to these issues.
“On the other hand, I am suggesting that those of us who benefit from the services and sacrifices of the police should also offer them some incentives to motivate them to serve us better. I am referring to the state governments.
“I may not have all the details, but I strongly suspect that our police are both underfunded and under equipped. They could also do with additional training and more incentives. The evidence does not appear difficult to find. From vehicles to equipment, including ammunition, communication gadgets, uniforms, and protective gears, the police are crying for more, and I think they deserve it.
“In this regard, I see every need to fortify our policemen and women with additional high technology driven amphibious skills in air and marine policing. This will equip them to effectively combat such major threats to our internal security, such as crude oil theft, cyber crime, and unbridled banditry. As we all know, these are real modern- day existential threats to our nationhood.
“I think the time has come for us as leaders to walk our talks. There is an urgent need to demonstrate concrete commitment to the welfare and operational capacity of the police. My submission here is that the National Assembly should come up with a bill for “a special police fund.” Under this arrangement, a special percentage from the federation account should be reserved for continuous and sufficient funding of the police. Equally, high network corporate bodies, including banks, should be made to mandatorily contribute a specified percentage of their annual profit to the police fund. Needless to add, that enhancing internal security to foster national unity should not be the concern of the government alone. High- profile corporate citizens should be concerned as well.
“I am happy to report to you that in Imo State, we, as a government, have been doing our best to assist all the security agencies working in the state. Like I alluded to during my opening remarks, those who paid the supreme price in line of duties in the state have not been abandoned by this administration. Such gestures will certainly augment the official packages for these men and women who are sacrificing their all for the protection of our lives and properties. We are also doing our best in providing the police with necessary equipment and logistics, such as patrol vehicles, communication gadgets, and armoured vehicles.
“As for their role in fostering national unity through enhanced internal security mechanism, there is no doubt that they have the will to do what is expected of them like other security agencies. What is maybe lacking is the efficient synergy among these agencies. We have had cause in the past to worry about the apparent and unnecessary rivalry among them. I don’t believe that kind of attitude will yield the results we need as a nation. Instead, working together in harmony and synergy will definitely get us to where we want to be.
“As we already know, the police are the closest security agency to the civilian populace, such that they have a relationship that easily assists them in carrying out their duties. The civilians trust the police the more, and the police understand the nuances of the civilians. So, the police are in a far better position to sustain national unity through enhanced internal security mechanisms.
“While I leave you to work on these suggestions at your technical sessions, let me assure you that the government of Imo State will continue to assist the security agencies, including the police, in the discharge of their constitutional duties. In the next couple of days, we shall be holding our governorship elections in the state. I charge you to be professional, as always, in the exercise of your assignment. Do not give room to hoodlums to disrupt the election. Just take charge and do your jobs as prescribed by the Constitution.
On that note, I wish you a very successful and fruitful deliberation.”
Governor Uzodimma said though a lot had been said about the image of the police, “if truth must be told, we deserve the police that we have.”
“If we have an unruly police, then we must have played a role in creating them, and we should have a share of the blame. If we have an efficient police force, it is also because we encourage them. At times, I wonder why our police officers excel during foreign missions and fall short here at home. Could it be due to the environment or the motivation and incentives? That is what we need to explore as policy makers.”
The governor noted that the government has a lot of role to play in ensuring that the police perform well in a given environment where the rights of the citizens are guaranteed under the Constitution.
His words: “For emphasis, however, let me say that internal security offers citizens the opportunity to enjoy the unfettered rights of the freedoms guaranteed in our constitution and the rule of law which is the irreducible minimum factor for national unity. Now, It is the duty of the government to ensure that internal security is guaranteed for the citizenry so that nationhood can have a healthy environment to thrive. To achieve this, the government empowers the police, by law, to secure the country for the citizens. This is an apt situation of the role of the police in Fostering National Unity through enhanced internal security.
“To this end, let us examine how the Nigerian police have fared in this regard. There are two sides to scrutinize here. The first is to look at the law establishing the Nigerian police and the second is to see the extent the police have gone in keeping faith with those statues.
“A creation of the constitution, under Section 214, the police have omnibus roles in both the protection of lives and property and the prevention of crime generally. According to section four of the Police Act, the duties of the Police include:
- Prevention and detection of crime.
- Apprehension of offenders.
- Preservation of law and order.
- Protection of lives and property.
- Due enforcement of laws and regulations whenever they are directly charged.
- Performance of such military duties within and outside Nigeria when necessary.
“With the aforementioned duties expected of the police, there is no doubt that they have the most crucial role to play in ‘Fostering National Unity through Enhanced Internal Security Mechanisms’, which is the theme of this conference. The natural question, therefore, is whether the police have been adequately empowered in terms of personnel, training, and logistics to perform this crucial role? This scrutiny is needful because having the relevant laws is important, but adequately equipping the police for the onerous task is even more important.
“Since 1964, when we had the first indigenous Inspector General of Police (IGP), we have had 22 IGPs, including the present one. I can say without fear of equivocation that all the IGPs have worked very hard to enhance the operational capacity of the force. I also know that countless dedicated and patriotic officers and men who continue to make efforts to protect lives and property will always be found in the police force.”
In President Tinubu’s remarks presented by the Minister of Police Affairs, Sen. Ibrahim Gaidam, he also shared in Governor Uzodimma’s views about a better funding, wage and welfare of the police and assured of his administration’s commitment to the ideals of the institution in the interest of the Nigerian society.
The Acting Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun in his welcome address recommitted himself to leading a police that the personnel would not only be properly taken care of, but have the necessary skills and knowledge to discharge their duties.
He announced that President Tinubu has given the police the go ahead to set up a Special Investigation Squad (SIS) which he said will aid them in discharging their duties.
President of INTERPOL, Ahmed Nasir Al Raisi who was the keynote speaker canvassed for a Nigerian Police that would be relevant in the global scheme of things as regards contemporary crimes and criminality.
Those who gave goodwill messages include: The Chief of Defence Staff, the National Security Adviser, Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Chairman, House Committee on Police Affairs, among others.
Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to the Governor