Former Inspector General of the Nigerian Police Force, Ibrahim Idris Kpotun has expressed disapproval to calls regarding the establishment of a state Police across the 36 states of the nation to be managed by state governments.
In a chat with The Heritage Times, Kpotun also shared his thoughts about the recent establishment of regional security outfits in Nigeria and the welfare of the force. He gave insights to some of steps he believes could be taken by the government in combatting insecurity.
The former IGP also talked on curbing police excesses, retirement, and police welfare. He was appointed IG of police by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 21, 2016. He retired in January 2019.
Kpotun responding to questions on the establishment of state Police explained that there was little or no need for that. According to him, the training of current officers was more paramount than establishing a new outfit where trainings, funding and equipping would become an issue. The former IG who was also strongly opposed to the recent establishment of regional security outfits stated that the recent establishment might become a bigger securing threat than a solution.
“When you say state police, you are creating another problem with the aim of tackling an existing problem. We should address the issue of the inadequacy of the police compared to its population.
To establish a unit, you have to train and arm the men, it’s not just establishing a unit you train and equip them to tackle this criminal situations. They have to undergo training and once you do that, it’s going to be a very difficult situation because then we would have the issue of jurisdiction. But that aside, what are the measures put in place to curb erring members of these outfits or have we forgotten the story of the Bakaasi boys so soon”.
Speaking on the current state of integrity in the Police Force, the former IG explained that all hope was not lost, as there are many police officers who have remained upright. According to Kpotun, the image of the police was been tarnished by only a few bad eggs who unfortunately, have gotten the spotlight. The IGP who accepted that there were corrupt officers, insisted that the force wasn’t different from other spheres or institutions of government which encompasses a mixture of various personalities. He admonished that there many officers who are currently serving punishments ranging from rustication, convictions, suspension amongst others; unfortunately, these cases get little or no press coverage as more often as the act or crime.
“Yes there are corrupt policemen, but it’s no different from other government institutions. Do you know that they are a lot of these corrupt officers in our custody? Some have been convicted, some rusticated, and others are suspended. But what happens is that unlike their crime, their punishments are not always given media publicity. After that initial outrage the media is sometimes complicit in following the case to the end but if you can investigate you would notice that many of these officers are locked up and are serving various sentences”.
Responding to the issue of police welfare, the former IG firmly stated that it was a matter of national security, as the current strength of the force compared to the Nigerian population was over stretched. He added that to ensure an effective force, frequent trainings and equipping of officers was necessary. According to him, training was something that was none ending and the upgrading of equipment was a constant need for any security officer.
“It is obvious that we are over stretched, I mean, the strength of the police compared to the Nigerian population, obviously, we are over stretched. We are operating at a very low level compared to the population of this country. Within a period of time, we can increase the population of the police to tackle the challenges we have in the country that will assist a lot. In reality we really need to train them to tackle insecurity as well as equip them. We need the right equipment to tackle this insecurity. I’m not saying that they are not well equipped, but just as the dynamics of insecurity changes, so is the equipment being used. So I’m saying that we need to train them and equip them to tackle their responsibility?”
Speaking on the recent attacks on police officers and stations, Kpotun believes an immediate action should be carried by the force, as many officers would have a dampened spirit and might be reluctant to work since their security isn’t guaranteed. According to him, a reorientation should be given to both members of the public and officers as the recent action as a result to lack of trust on both sides.
“We need to tackle attack on police men. That is a very serious crime, and until we look into those attacks on policemen, their morals could continue to be dampened.
What should government do? I believe the government should look into the attacks on police men because it dampens the moral of the police, we have to look at those issues and study it deeply. Has anybody done any study on those? Also we need to educate the public, burning of police stations, attacking officers does not solve the problem. We need to build mutual trust”.
Responding to calls by Nigerians to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, the former IGP who noted that there were indeed some bad eggs in the force, insisted that the purpose of their establishment had not been eluded thus, a retraining was needed, not a total shutdown.
“From the name what does SARS mean? They set them up for a purpose. Are we still facing the problem? If we are still facing the problem it’s just to train and equip those unit and make them more effective”.
Kpotun further debunked rumours of his vying for a political position as he insisted that he “has no interest in politics”. The retired officer instead said his aim is to gain as much rest as possible, as well as help humanity.