Parry Osayande is a retired Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police (rtd) and currently the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC). Recently, the Presidential Committee on Police Reform which he chaired submitted their report to the President, where they recommended the scrapping of the Ministry of Police Affairs.
The super cop in this interview with Saturday Vanguard, spoke on their recommendations and also hinted that police officers are being trained now on counter terrorism. He also spoke on other issues.
Your recommendation that the Ministry of Police Affairs should be scrapped have been received with mixed feelings from some quarters, what motivated your committee’s decision on that issue?
Let me tell you, our recommendations were not based on sentiments but what is good for the nation. For instance, if you go to Gombe, they have finished the whole police institution there. Yobe was empty when I visited there. I have toured all these places but I don’t think the Minister has. If they went on tour, they would be able to know how to organize the buildings, they would know the type of vehicles they required there. Has the Minister ever been to Yenagoa or Obudu, but we have policemen in all these places?
You cannot just sit down and be awarding contracts and the Inspector General of Police does not know. So I am not against the Ministry of Police Affairs but what I said in my report is that the Police Service Commission (PSC), according to the 1999 Constitution made a trilateral arrangement for the administration of the police. One, the Police Council is made up of the President and chairman of the council, all the Governors of the Federating states as members and the IG as member. But that Council has never done its function according to the constitution other than to come once in three or four years to sit down and recommend the appointment of a new Inspector General of Police, then they go back to sleep,whereas they should be meeting three, four times a year to discuss how the police should be governed,discuss the police problem and discuss police finances. If there were meetings like that, this would have doused the clamour for a state police because every body will now bring their problems at the meeting. So when we talk about governance of the police, the Police Council must meet and discuss the problems of the police. If they meet, then they will be able to manage the police properly which at the moment is sustaining the unity of the country.
Why are we crying of state police? The money you will aggregate under one head to enhance the performance of the police, you now want to cut it into pieces. States cannot fund the police, we knew what happened so many years back, how the government in power will use Local Government Police to arrest their political opponents. The truth is that in a federal set up, ideally, there should be state and Local Government Police, but we are not politically mature. That is my own argument. You can see how our politicians behave even with the powers they have now. And what will happen if two states have conflict? You will see that both states will use their state police to start war. Besides, most advanced countries like America and Britain are now centralizing their police force in view of the new development in crime like terrorism, like cyber crime. Therefore, there must be an organ that will tackle that problem. So once we are ready, we will go for State Police but for now, we are not just ready.
But the impression is that the Police Service Commission (PSC) wants to take charge of contract awards and that was the reason for recommending the scrapping of Ministry of Police Affairs?
That is rubbish. Just go and look at the recommendations. I am telling you that there are three bodies. I only handle recruitment, discipline and promotion, that is all. That does not involve money or contracts. Before my Commission was established, was it not you journalists that were writing about policemen complaining about promotion. Are they still crying now? Now if you are qualified for promotion, you get it without knowing any body. I have been promoting people without knowing them. Once you are due for promotion and then you do your job well, you will be promoted. Who is thinking that the Police Service Commission wants to be awarding contracts, that is nonsense. It is not a fight between the PSC and the Ministry of Police Affairs, we are fighting for a good Force for the whole country. You did not talk when an Assistant Commissioner of Police that I promoted to Deputy Commissioner as the Chairman of the EFCC, who was working under the IG but now earns more than the IG. You think such things are normal, he is on N1.5million while the IG is on about N700,000 and some fraction and you people will not talk.
A small boy that I promoted just because he was transferred from A to B, he is now earning more than the IG, the same thing with the SSS, all these people were part and parcel of the police. There are people who deliberately killed the police and they are trying to make the country ungovernable today. Why don’t you ask the governors why they want state police, because they want to be more powerful, to use them against their political opponents.
Don’t you see when the governorship campaign was going on in Edo state, politicians were accusing each other every day. If there was a state police, you can imagine what would have happened. But if they allow the Police Council to operate, they can now bring their grievances there and resolve it themselves.
But why this ceaseless conflicting reports between the SSS and the police, particularly on the issue of the killing of Olaitan Oyerinde, Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s Private Secretary?
The SSS should not be heard, they should neither be seen nor be heard. They are supposed to operate clandestinely, gather information, intelligence, distill and authenticate and pass them to the appropriate authority for use. This new trend where everybody comes and arrests and also prosecutes is very bad. Needless schism among security agencies is wrong.
If you get the information, pass it to the appropriate authority. Everybody wants to be seen. That was what caused the 9/11 tragedy in America. It is not that they did not have the information but some security agencies were hoarding the information and did not pass it to others. That is rubbish. Once you get the information, pass it to the appropriate quarters. If it is the Army, give it to them and if it is the police, give it to them also.
But a lot of Nigerians have more confidence in the SSS than the Police because the police is seen as one body that can easily be compromised?
Who does not compromise in this country? Look, we are trying to reform the police because we agreed that the system was rotten. But you people always come with a set mind including the press. We are talking about reforming the police now and you are talking about people compromising.
There are bad eggs every where. Even since MD Abubakar came, are there no changes in the police but I have not read any editorial about it. You must encourage them. It is your police. Look at the poor girl they murdered the other day, it did not take the police one week to get them and we are now getting reports unlike before. Yes, I know that the police used to be bad but they are improving now. We want to return the force to their past glory. We have sent our report to the Federal Government and Mr President has set up a committee to write the white paper and one of the recommendations is that he should also set up an implementation Committee so that they will see to the implementation of the report to the end. You can see that the implementation of the report has started, you will observe that the police of today was not like this one year ago.
But we still don’t have the number of policemen that will effectively police the entire nation?
Yes, let them go and get the Police Colleges right. That is what the Ministry of Police Affairs should have done so that they can create a conducive learning environment for police officers and then we produce gentlemen as policemen. Instead of training them like dogs, let them build Police Colleges. I can’t send people to Police College to go and train when the learning environment is not conducive. That is even part of the problem we have. My job is only to recruit police men and train them but it is the Ministry that handles that money for policemen. The Ministry does not know how many people I recruit, so how will they know how much the police need. For instance, Mr President has approved the establishment of a police university, it is on- going. They have started writing papers but they did not know the number of people we are going to recruit. Now, they will go and award the contracts for the building and they will not tell the IG.
No body bothers to know the quality and the people who awarded the contracts; don’t visit there. Why must it be the police alone that the Ministry will now be running their money?The Chief of Army Staff manages the funds of the Army; Immigration does the same and Prisons, except the Police. Police is the whipping boy, why must it be so?
But are you not worried that the police still cannot handle some situations unless the Army is drafted to save the situation?
I have ceased to worry. Drastic situation requires drastic measures. At 76 ,I don’t worry any more but I know that the police will get better. We have our operational mandate.
The last line of defense in any democratic setting is the police, we manage acts of internal insurrection. If the police fails, then we write to the Army to come and take over, that is the standing mandate. We don’t tackle these problems over night, we have people training specially on terrorism now. You see, when you encounter new developments in crime, you strategize. And don’t forget, when you say terrorism, these people are our brothers and sisters too. All we have to do is to negotiate with them. Look at what Yar’Adua did with the Niger Delta militants, he negotiated and we are enjoying peace there today. No body wants destruction, we want peace.
But specifically what is the number of policemen in the country today?
We have about 350,000, the highest employer of labour in Africa, perhaps in the whole world. Before we came in, people were crying of promotion but today, nobody is complaining that his junior was promoted above him, we have stopped such illicit acts.
The purpose of our reform is to ensure that the police is well motivated and we have submitted our report and Mr President assured us that he is going to do something positive and he is already doing some thing. He has already appointed a committee to do the white paper. I told you people that the Nigerian police is the least paid in the whole of West Africa. Why should that be? And we are oil rich nation.
Take a visit to the police barracks and you will see where human beings live. When you are dehumanized, the tendency is that you want to take it back to the society and you become violent your self. So we want to change all that and we must change it.