Three weeks after Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), gave a directive on the withdrawal of police orderlies attached to VIPs — politicians, business leaders and entertainers, Daily Independent findings revealed that the order has largely been ignored.
Rather than release the policemen at their disposal back to the police authorities so as to complement the existing personnel in securing the populace, our correspondent gathered that many VIPs and politicians have added more police personnel due to the recent attacks by hoodlums in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.
During Sunday’s meeting in Lagos between South-West governors and traditional rulers to proffer solution to the destruction in the region by hoodlums, many policemen were seen escorting dignitaries invited to the event, despite the fact that the IGP was also in attendance at the meeting.
Speaking with our correspondent, a senior police officer in Lagos who spoke on condition of anonymity, said many of the police personnel attached to the VIPs “also don’t want to leave due to the extra pay they receive to augment their salaries”.
He also added that some of the policemen he has spoken to said they find it difficult to resume at police stations now because of the massive damages done to the buildings by the hoodlums which are yet to be renovated.
“It is a difficult thing. One, the situation in the country is still tensed. We are yet to see the end of the #EndSARS crisis. That is why you haven’t seen many policemen on the streets. Also, many of these VIPs are still living in fear and demanding improved security.
“Due to the insufficient number of policemen, some are even employing the services of vigilantes, OPC and others. So, it is a difficult period to withdraw police security from them. Maybe that can be done after normalcy has returned to the country.
“Also, if you withdraw these policemen, which station will they resumed at? Many of the police stations have been destroyed while others are in bad shape. These are factors that made the IGP’s directive a difficult thing to do now”, he said.
Before the latest directive, in March 2018, former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, ordered an immediate withdrawal of all police orderlies attached to private individuals and companies. The order was ignored as the then IGP could not ensure its enforcement.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2015 directed that police personnel attached to unauthorised persons and VIPs in the country be withdrawn and deployed to confront the security challenges in the country.
In 2018, the Police Service Commission (PSC) said the commission in conjunction with the NPF, had commenced withdrawal of police officers, but the exercise was stalled due to lack of funds.
Former Chairman of the PSC, Mike Okiro, said the Police Force could not afford to have more than half of its officers in private hands, lamenting that the enforcement of the order on withdrawal of policemen attached to unqualified persons in the country could not be sustained due to lack of funds.
Speaking on the latest directive by the IGP, Monday Ubani, a former second Vice- President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), said the order by the IGP is just a mere talk to force the VIPs who are in dire need of police protection to pay more for their services.
“That has always been the procedure and process the previous IGPs have adopted. What they do is to say that they have withdrawn the police orderlies from the VIPs. But you find out that what they are asking for is basically for the VIPs to come and renew their service charge. It is just business as usual.
“It is not as if those guys will be withdrawn. Is it that they have improved the issue of security in the country that you are asking for policemen to be withdrawn from these VIPs? These are people that cannot do without police protection and now you are asking that their orderlies be withdrawn?
“What I see is that with this fresh directive, the VIPs will pay higher amount to ensure that they retain their policemen. If anyone expects that those policemen will be withdrawn, such a person is only joking. To me, it is just business. Any new IGP that comes in will issue the same directive”.
Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere National Publicity Secretary, said it will be difficult to implement the directive by the IGP owing to the pecuniary interest involved.
“It is clear that policemen who are attached to VIPs, when they get their privileges, some of their superiors also benefit from the privileges. So, it is not easy to carry out such a directive because they will not want the largesse to go easily”.
When contacted, Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, said since the IGP gave the directive of the withdrawal of the police escorts, he is in a better position to assess the level of compliance.
Mba, who said the police force has made significant progress in ensuring that the directive is being carried out, added that the failure of some police orderlies to comply with the directive is not due to disobedience but due to operational issues.
He said, “First of all, we need to understand that the directive was given by the IGP himself based on his assessment of the dynamics of deployment and the manpower allocation and need for report. It wasn’t a directive that was imposed by some external forces. It was originated by the IGP; it was conceived by the IGP, originated by him and issued out by him.
“So, there is no better person to assess the progress of that directive than the IGP himself. I think we must understand that. I will tell you categorically that that directive is being enforced. There are circumstances where there might be a timeframe before that directive can be 100 percent implemented due to operational issues and others.
“Also, there might be some delays which are not a consequence of disobedience but that of operation. I can tell you that that particular directive is being carried out and the force has made significant progress in withdrawing these personnel attached to these persons in that category”.