By Moses Omoregieva
Lagos – The Inspector- General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, says the force will establish special tracking unit in Lagos and Port-Harcourt to check kidnapping and other crimes.
Idris made this known when he was interacting with civil society groups and crime reporters in Lagos on Friday.
He noted that kidnapping was becoming more serious than other crimes in the country.
The IG said that the tracking machine established in Abuja had helped to resolve about 90 per cent cases of kidnapping with victims rescued and suspects arrested.
”Already, tracking machines have been deployed to states and will start functioning in few weeks time, so as to reduce pressure on those in Abuja.
”This will enhance the police anti-kidnapping drive.
”The machine in Port Harcourt, Rivers will cater for the South-South and South East zones, while the one deployed to Lagos would focus on the west,” he said.
The police chief also said that there were plans to reinvigorate the force forensic laboratories, noting however, that funds constraints were hindering its implementation.
Idris urged Nigerians to assist the police in tackling armed crimes, reiterating that the fight against kidnappers was a community fight.
According to him, it is not what the police alone can handle. It has become a community fight and can only be solved with the help of the people.
“When I assumed duty, one of the plans we came up with was to rehabilitate our forensic units. I outlined the challenges of the police and how to handle them.
”The thing is that we have been having funding challenges.
“We are trying to address it in a holistic manner. Very soon, we are going to have National Security Summit. Kidnapping seems to be a community problem.
“Over 90 percent of victims have been rescued. I agree that it is becoming a major challenge. It cuts across the entire country. It has to be addressed in various forms.
“It is not just the police or security agencies. Take for instance where the Turkish School students were kidnapped. That school is situated at the foot of a swamp.
”Despite that parents pay huge amount of money, the school did not invest much in security.
“So, we are going to use the summit to address these issues as well as others like the herdsmen and farmers issues.
”These issues are further dividing us as a nation and we need to solve them.
You cannot have the maximum support of security in an area without the support of the public.
”Everybody has one thing or the other to make our society safe,” Idris said.
He expressed the need for the media and civil society to be advocates of improved funding for the police through the Police Trust Fund.
“The funding of the police is costly. What we are trying to do is to pursue 50 percent of our budgetary requirement from other sources.
”We are also looking for other avenues where we can address the problem of the police.
“At the same time, we are hoping that the National Assembly will pass the bill establishing Police Trust Fund, by so doing, open up other sources for the police to generate money.
”It is already happening in Lagos (Security Trust Fund) and has been working wonderfully.
“We are aware that the Federal Government is financially constrained and so, we do not think it is right to over burden the system by creating other agencies.
”These agencies would require funding and create rivalry. But if more money is available for the police and more people recruited, we can achieve so much more,” he noted.
Idris also stated that there were plans to professionalise the police by establishing specialised schools such as Finance, Marine, among others for training.
He urged civil society organisations to support the police in training its personnel on professional conducts.
The IG expressed satisfaction at the scorecard of the rebranded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“We are working hard to restore the integrity of the police. Earning the confidence of the people is important to us and we can only achieve that by changing the attitude of some of our policemen.
”By the time we achieve that, the people’s trust will be regained and things will be better.
“This is one of the reasons we make it compulsory for officers from the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and above to declare their assets.
”My management team and I declared our assets when we came on board,” he said.
On the strength of the police, Idris said that the service was understaffed and would need over a million policemen to meet United Nations standard.
”Thankfully, the government has given approval for yearly recruitment of 10,000 policemen. For so many years, there was embargo on police recruitment.
“Besides, the police lost so many personnel in the course of the Boko Haram insurgency. We were the worst hit and still we were not recruiting.
”All these affected the strength of the police,” the police chief said.
He revealed that of the N300 billion budgeted for the police in 2016, only N4 billion was eventually released
By Moses Omoregieva