Crime Fighter’s boss, Chief Dr. Aisha Tosan, recently sat down with Vanguard Newspaper to discuss several issues drawing back the Nigeria Police Force, she also went ahead to proffer solutions to these issues. Read excerpts from the interview below.
…Emirs, Ministers, Senators influence postings — Crime Fighter boss
…State govs lobby for Commissioners of Police
…Corruption soars, officers lose morale
…Buhari should save Nigeria from doom
BY CHARLES KUMOLU
Though not a Police officer, she personifies the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, more than even the personnel.
With over 30 years of associating with the institution, it could be safe to humorously say that she is more Police than the Police.
Just the way Police officers often say during an altercation with civilians: “Oga you can’t teach me my job,” she can unequivocally teach a policeman key things about policing.
This is no extreme exaggeration, as it truly mirrors her capacity in an institution she loves dearly even without being a personnel.
Aisha Tosan’s knowledge of both the fundamental and pedestrian aspects of policing is such that could rival that of men, who had occupied the highest echelon of the force.
Even the late Professor Jean-Paul Brodeur, son of a Canadian policeman, and author of The Policing Web, who became a global authority with his theories in crime, would marvel at her understanding of modern policing.
Standing up for societal good
Her bonding with the institution, which is regarded as the most disliked in the country, seemed unbreakable.
It was this affinity that nudged her into speaking exclusively to Saturday Vanguard about what she considered the accentuation of the root in the sector under its present leadership.
From her tone during the interview, it was obvious that Aisha, who is the Executive Producer of popular television program, Crime Fighters, is sad about the current happenings in the Force. Hence, her decision to bare it all not minding whose ox is gored. It is to help the police and Nigeria as a whole.
Given her closeness to the institution and knowing Nigerians for not standing up for societal good when it matters most, many would certainly wonder if she cared about the likelihood of backlash that might trail this publication.
But Tosan, who has a Ph.D. in Policing, was not bothered, as she considered her revelations an urgent plea for supervisory action by the appropriate authorities, especially the Presidency.
Coming at a time when Senator Isa Misau accused the NPF leadership of elevating corruption in the force, makes Eyinwumi’s story of alleged malpractices by same leadership a revealing read.
People who are due for promotion
Based on her convictions, she told Saturday Vanguard thus: ‘’When I speak, I speak from the perspective of somebody, who knows what she is talking about. I was a Crime Correspondent with Vanguard for 15 years and left to do Crime Fighter with the Police for 17 years. I have been in the police circle for more than 30 years. I have also done a Ph.D. on policing.
So, I am much grounded in what I am talking about. Corruption has been in the Force even before the time of Tafar Balogun. Unfortunately, successive governments have not been able to address the challenges associated with the leadership of the Police Force. After the exit of Tafar Balogun, we had Inspector Generals of Police, IGP’s, who were like Tarfa. Apart from Suleiman and Onovo, I don’t think I can vouch for other IGPs that came after Tarfa.
Nepotism is also corruption
‘’When we talk about corruption, it has to be properly defined because there is something we are missing in this clime about corruption. We seem to think that corruption is just about people, who steal money. Nepotism is also corruption. When you promote people above those higher than them, it is corruption. When you forcefully befriend a girl in your office, it is corruption. All of these happen in the Nigerian Police Force.
Lobbying of emirs for posting
“There is nothing that Senator Misau said that is not right. Everything he said is happening in the Force. The truth is that I cannot pinpoint that someone gave another person money in order to get promoted. But the truth is that people lobby to get posting. People lobby politicians and emirs to get posting. These days it has become a tradition that people must lobby emirs to get posting. State governors are also lobbied to get posting, particularly those in the cadre of Commissioners of Police and IGP, and Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG.
It is sickening that under the present regime that prides itself as fighting corruption, well-trained Commissioners of Police are grounded in Force Headquarters. And the incumbent is promoting Assistant Commissioners of Police and Deputy Commissioners of Police twice within six months.
And they were made to head state commands. There is going to be a backlash on this and I am willing to defend it. The Police Act says that an officer from the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, can be referred to as a Police Commissioner. But administratively, because the Police are a discipline organisation, they follow the promotion on seniority bases and promotions are also done on seniority basis.
Posting competent hands to state commands
‘’ In the past, what the Police management did was to look at competent hands, who would be posted to state commands that are turbulent. The commands include Bornu, Rivers, Lagos, Oyo, and Delta. These are states that are referred to as flashpoints and competent police officers are the ones that are supposed to be posted there instead of young Commissioners of Police.
It is also a tradition that when officers have two years or one year to retire, the officers are sent to different commands where they will impact their knowledge.
But what do we have now? Ibrahim became IGP and grounded substantive Commissioners of Police in Force headquarters and on his own, gave acting positions to Deputy Commissioners of Police, who were promoted within the period of three months. These are people that do not have the experience.
Policing a state comes with a lot of experience. But you don’t begrudge the officers, who got patronised by the police leadership. Rather, the leadership and the Police Service Commission, PSC, should be blamed. Having done my research for my Ph.D.
on policing and donated a copy to Police leadership, I know so much about the Force. It is the responsibility of the PSC under the Section 215 and Section 216 for the PSC to transfer Commissioners of Police. But the Police came to an understanding between themselves when there was a face-off between Parry Osayande, Onovo, and ex-Minister of Police Affairs, Lame that the IGP should have an input into the postings of Commissioners of Police because he is the one, who is going to work with them. But that does not take away the fact that the PSC plays a fundamental role in ensuring that substantive Commissioners, who are well grounded in operational matters are posted to commands.
There is so much bad blood in the system
“What we have now are situations where the IGP will single-handedly promote and transfer the Commissioners. And the PSC under the leadership of Mike Okiro would rubber-stamp it. I have once called Okiro to ask why he is allowing such, but he said the IGP was the one, who knows the officers very well and better placed to post them to commands. But I disagreed with him because he was once an IGP and if they did what he is doing to other officers to him, how would he have felt? There is so much bad blood in the system. Officers are demoralised, Commissioners of Police don’t have roofs over their heads.
When they are posted to Abuja, they pay their hotel bills themselves. They don’t have staff cars. Meanwhile, funds are being moved around for the purpose of bribing emirs. So, it has become a culture for the leadership to be moving money around under the guise of doing public relations stunts. It is so bad to the extent that the present leadership is not listening to anybody.
Section 214, Section 215
‘’Again, I want to refer to Section 214, Section 215 and Section 216 which stated that the Police Council that is chaired by the President should call the IGP to order, otherwise, a minister that is the representative of the President has the right to call the IGP to order. But as we speak, nobody is calling the IGP to order.
We really don’t know what is happening. If the Police are truly under the Ministry of Interior, is the minister happy with what is going on in the Force? Does he understand what is happening? If the President is the Chairman of the Police Council, is he not listening to what is happening in the Police Force? Mine is to save the Nigerian Police Force. I am not interested in whoever becomes the IGP. Enough is enough.
On what accentuated the rot under the present leadership
“It is because successive governments have not taken time to understand that the choice of who they make IGP matters. During the military era, before an IGP was chosen, his antecedents were considered. The Department of State Security Services, SSS, Directorate of Military Intelligence, DMI, and National Intelligence Agency, NIA, would be made to scrutunise the curriculum vitae, of the people.
That is why those, who were chosen as IGP then were those, who understood that the military government was watching and they could be removed at any time. As it were, I stand to be challenged that Obasanjo did not fight corruption in the force with the removal of Tarfa. After Obasanjo, we lost track. That is why Ehindero is still under the ICPC radar. After Ehindero, nobody again has turned the radar on the IGPs.
‘’It even became worst during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. It was such that an IGP could do anything and nobody did anything. And the worst aspect was that officers would have to lobby to be posted. If someone does not have a godfather, he would not get good posting. It does not matter whether the person is brilliant or not. So, the brilliant ones, who are truly willing to do the job are frustrated.
Closeness to IGP, minister, and senator
‘’This scenario that I just painted now became a norm for younger officers, who lobby in order to be posted. For instance, they said they are giving special promotion. What determines it? It is just closeness to the IGP, a minister, and senator among others.
In fact, there is a certain civilian in Lagos, who tells anyone that the person can become a DCP tomorrow and it would come to pass. Officers no longer believe in hardwork and service to the nation. They believe their loyalty is to one individual. And once they are loyal to that individual, they can be given a special promotion.
‘’Those officers, who are working, who are daily battling scourges of robbery and kidnapping, are not being promoted. With the exception of Aba Kyari, all the special promotions they did recently were officers, who were sitting in the comfort of their offices.
They were not those engaged in operation in the battlefield. They were promoted over their seniors. For instance, someone, who may still be in secondary school when his colleague joined the Police 10 year earlier, can become a senior officer because he has been given a special promotion.
Proviso for special promotion
‘’The Commissioner of Police in Adamawa that Senator Misau mentioned is a typical example. He was given a special promotion. His mates are still Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, and he is already a Commissioner. How would his mates feel? Is that not corruption? There is a proviso that officers can be given special promotion but there is also a proviso for that special promotion to be given. But the leadership abuse that proviso by giving their cronies special promotion. So, that has destroyed discipline in the Force and discipline is the bedrock of any organisation. The situation is so bad that someone, who is a DSP today, would be a CSP by the time he gets to Force Headquarters next week. It is either Buhari saves Nigeria through saving the Police Force or he does not want to save Nigeria.
No corporate governance in NPF
‘’I am saying this and I saying it clearly that fighting corruption is not just to fight corrupt politicians alone. Buhari should look at the civil service and other structures of governance and begin to make the leaders of these institutions account for their actions. People are appointed to positions and they become demigods.
There is no corporate governance. I speak for the organization I know so well and I am saying that there is no corporate governance in the Police. The IGP decides and that is all. When they even go for conferences, it’s always a one-man show because Deputy Inspector Generals, DIGs, and other officers would be at sea.
How can such an organization move forward? How can one individual know it all? That is what has happened over the years. The DIGs are not allowed to do their jobs. In fairness to Ibrahim Idris, this thing did not start in his regime. It has been like that. Once an IGP is appointed, it becomes a winner takes it all situation.
Not the work of one individual
‘’Except a DIG is subservient that is when he becomes the IGP’s friend. Otherwise, if the DIG’s opinion differs with that of the IGP, he is seen as someone who wants to take IGP’s job. And I begin to wonder, whose job? Policing is not the work of one individual, it requires collective responsibility. Because the President has not been supervising, he also has his share of the blame. When you put someone on a seat, the person should be supervised.
If the Minister cannot supervise the Police Force, the PSC should sit up. Imagine the number of officers, who were wasted for the present IGP to be appointed. Brilliant officers were retired. I once asked my friend, Babatunde Fashola why the present IGP was picked, he said he was not the one that decides. He said it was not in his place to question the decision.
Leadership not listening to advice
‘’All the good jobs that past IGPs did are not being sustained. Somebody like MD Abubakar did a good job, but he was not listening to advice.
Solomon Arase did a good job but he was not able to fight corruption. But in terms of putting some structures that would move the force forward in place, he did well. But those structures that have been put in place have also been dismantled by the incumbent. The claim of fighting corruption is not real. A visit to Force Headquarters will reveal how senior Police Commissioners are treated. There is no longer respect for senior officers, who are being treated like houseboys. Their inputs do not matter. The issue became this obvious in this dispensation because no one is supervising the Force. If the situation is not arrested big trouble looms for Nigeria. The police can’t continue like this.
No one is supervising the Force
‘’This dispensation is a closed government that you cannot access. They have no listening ears. Otherwise, this should not have degenerated to this level. If it was a government that has listening ears, it should have understood that injustice is going on in the Nigerian Police Force. These things were done by other IGPs and they got away with them.
Arase promoted his boys towards the end of his tenure. It was termed a parting gift. But what sort of parting gift was that? Why must it be that officers with connections are the people who are promoted? These things start from the Villa. The moment a police officer is made a Chief Security Officer, CSO, and the person will be given a special promotion.
‘’The letter from the Office of the Chief of Staff recommending the person for a special promotion, would later be made to accommodate the names of the loyalists of the IGP before it gets to the PSC. At the PSC, the letter would be approved. That is the game. That is why everyone wants to be close to a senator or a minister. There are those, who are truly doing their jobs and are not corrupt. There those, who do not know how to lobby. Some of us believe in hardwork.
Why governors lobby for Commissioners of Police
‘’If the Federal Government was alive to its responsibilities, nobody will be talking about state police.
States that are doing well today like Lagos are doing so because all the leaders that have been elected, cared about the people. They knew that if they were to get the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR right, they must get security right. That is why security is number one on the radar of the state. It is also for that reason that successive governors of the state invested in security. ‘’Other states have followed suit.
That is why state governors lobby for certain Commissioners to be posted to their states. If competent officers were being posted to commands, state governors would not have been lobbying. In Edo State today, the governor and the Commissioner of Police do not seem to be in a good relationship.
The governor is frustrated that crime has taken over the state. It is because we have a leadership that is not listening. A lot of former IGPs, who I have spoken to said they would not speak to the present leadership because it does not listen to counsel. They don’t want to be ridiculed by him. Some very senior retired IGPs have also stayed away to allow the man in charge do what he wants to do against wise counsel.
On nexus between what is happening and crime rate
‘’Policing is a tough job and it requires experience. In policing there are people that are operationally grounded. There are also officers that are grounded in investigation and administration. If you move officers that are not operationally grounded as Commissioners of Police, there will not be good results. When they post such people to commands, they take DCP’s that are operationally grounded and make them in charge of operations. But individual differences are there. That Commissioner of Police that is not operationally sound would begin to frustrate the DCP. If the Commissioner is not doing anything right, the DCP would just keep quiet because he is bound to respect his superior officer.
State govs give allowance to Commissioners
‘’A Commissioner of Police that is operationally grounded should be able to carry the Area Commanders along. But some Commissioners of Police don’t have that ability. Some believe that when they are posted to commands, it is an opportunity to make money. That is why they put pressure on Divisional Police Officers, DPOs, and Area Commanders. That is why certain areas are known for extortion.
They claim that they are not corrupt but it is not true. They don’t tell the media the truth. And the media, especially the print media no longer do investigative journalism to know the truth about what is happening in the system. In fairness to all state governors, they give allowances to the Commissioners.
The good Commissioners make sure that the allowances are passed on to the commands for them to be able to run their offices because what the federal government sends is next to nothing. Some Commissioners take the money without even telling their Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners. In fairness to the Commissioners also, their salaries are poor.
Current PSC has outlived its usefulness
‘’I think the Police Service Commission as presently constituted has outlived its usefulness. I have my sister, Comfort Obi, there and Mike Okiro has been my friend right from when he was a DPO. And he cannot deny that. But I will say that Okiro has lost it. What the leadership is doing could not have been done under Parry Osayende, who retired as a DIG. Osayande stamped his feet on the ground on issues of discipline and promotion.
He gave promotions at the end of his tenure that were queried. It formed the bedrock for Okiro to continue. I will say that he has not done well. He is my friend but we must tell ourselves the truth. He cannot be there and allow impunity to be going on. The Police are worst in this dispensation and it is contrary to the change we worked for. I am the most disappointed because there is no supervision now.