Thousands of policemen are attached to politicians, public office holders, and other dignitaries despite cries of shortage of personnel deployed for regular police duty by the authorities, Daily Trust investigations have shown, according to a Dailytrust.com.ng report.
The Nigeria Police Force recently said an average of 221 policemen is attached to a Nigerian governor.
There are about 300,000 policemen in Nigeria with a population of 182 million people, according to the Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris.
The Nigerian situation is far below the United Nations’ 1:400 police-population ratio. The Nigerian cops are overwhelmed by security internal security challenges that include robbery, kidnapping, ritual killings, herders-farmers clashes, ethno-religious and political violence.
Analysis by Daily Trust revealed that about 7,956 policemen are attached to the 36 state governors in the country. This number is more than two-third of the number of cops recruited last year.
221 cops per governor
In April, the spokesperson of the Nigeria police force, Jimoh Moshood said 221 police personnel were attached to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State for personal protection.
Moshood was reacting to Governor Wike’s claim that the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris had ordered that he should be killed.
The police spokesperson said the 221 personnel are more than the number of cops in some state police area commands in the country.
Moshood, an assistant commissioner of police, said: “It is incumbent on the Nigeria Police Force to educate the general public and draw the attention of the Governor of Rivers State to the facts and figures available for press and members of the public to verify, that there are 221 police personnel attached currently to His Excellency, Mr. Nyesom Wike, the Executive Governor of Rivers State for his Personal and office protection.
“The breakdown is as follows: one ADC (SPO), one CSO (SPO), one Unit Commander (Special Protection Unit) SPO, one Unit Commander (Counter Terrorism Unit) SPO, one Escort Commander (SPO), one Camp Commander (SPO), one Admin officer (SPO) to administer the Police Personnel, 54 Inspectors of Police, 136 Police Sergeants and 24 Police Corporals.”
Daily Trust investigations revealed that the 36 ministers in the country have an average of five policemen each, totalling 180, attached to them for protection. A minister has an average security convoy of two vehicles consisting of anti-riot cops and operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS).
Special Advisers (SAs) and Senior Special Assistants (SSAs) to the president are currently having at least one police detail attached to them for personal security. Some of them have more than one.
Members of the National Assembly also have police protection. Senate President Bukola Saraki, for instance, has 67 police personnel attached to him. About 80 are said to be attached to his deputy Ike Ekweremadu. The 106 other senators have at least one cop each for personal protection.
In the House of Representatives, Speaker Yakubu Dogara has an average of 30 cops attached to his office. His deputy and other principal officers have more than two each, while the remaining 360 members have an average of one each.
State legislators, commissioners, local government chairmen and heads of state agencies, among others, all have police personnel attached to them. For instance, the speakers of the 36 State Houses of Assembly maintain a convoy of security personnel.
The judiciary is also having a large chunk of the cops for the protection of judges. The Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN), the President of the Court of Appeal, chief justices of the Federal High Court, the FCT High Court, Sharia Court of Appeal, Customary Court of Appeal, National Industrial Court, all have police personnel attached to them for protection.
Also, the 22 Supreme Court justices, the 66 Court of Appeal justices, the 69 FHC judges, 38 FCT High Court judges, and the 20 judges of the National Industrial Court, all have at least a cop each attached to them.
Apart from these judicial officers, the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), equally have hundreds of judges with police protection.
Protection for big cats
The heads of the 480 federal agencies, commissions, parastatals and inter-ministerial committees have between one to five police personnel attached to them. They comprise of group managing directors, managing directors, directors general, executive secretaries, executive chairmen, chief executive officers, chief medical directors, executive vice presidents, among others.
The number of police personnel attached to these heads of agencies is based on their category and grades. For instance, the GMD of NNPC, Governor of CBN, EVC of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), EFCC chairman, among others have ore police personnel attached to them compared to those attached to heads of teaching hospitals or NTA, FRCN.
Even the police chiefs maintain a retinue of large police personnel for protection. The Inspector General of Police has a large motorcade of security detail consisting of about ten vehicles. The Deputy Inspectors General (DIG) of police, Assistant Inspectors General (AIG) of police, as well as Police Commissioners (CP) maintain a moderate army of policemen for protection.
The traditional rulers in the country also have their own share of the cops for protection. There are more than 100 first- class emirs and chiefs in the country, and they maintain a huge retinue of security convoy that comprises police personnel. There are more than that number of second -class and third-class chiefs that have between three to two cops attached to them.
9,000 cops retire yearly
All this is happening at a time the country is under-policed because of the shortage of personnel.
The chairman of the Police Service Commission, Chief Mike Okiro recently told Daily Trust in an interview that the Nigerian police force loses an average of 9,000 personnel annually.
“From last year to date, we have lost about 9,000 people,” he said. “For five years, there’s been no recruitment, and the police lost almost 40,000 people due to retirement, death and so on before we got the marching order to recruit 10,000 every year, which we did last year,” the former inspector general of police, said.
100,000 cops as orderlies
Despite all this, about one-third of the police population are illegally deployed as orderlies, escorts, and guards to individuals not entitled to such privileges.
This was the disclosure made in the middle of 2009 by the then Inspector-General of Police Ogbonna Onovo in Abuja.
Addressing a press conference, Onovo said close to 100,000 policemen were at the moment illegally serving as guards to individuals who are not entitled to such privileges.
The police chief at that time ordered all such policemen working with individuals to withdraw and report back to their police formations within seven days or risk dismissal.
The police force has a total of 377,000 men and officers at that time.
“Most of the police escorts and orderlies were assigned illegally,” he said.
The Federal Executive Council in March 2009, directed the withdrawal of police personnel attached to Nigerians who were not entitled to such privileges.
On August 19, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the then Inspector-General Solomon Arase to withdraw cops attached to dignitaries and redeploy them to regular police duties.
More than two years later, both the police authorities and the dignitaries seemed to have defied this directive. The police officers remain on their illegal duties and they were never delisted and no dignitary was prosecuted for keeping a cop as escorts illegally.
Public officials entitled to escorts
Political and public office holders entitled to special police security include the President, Vice President, Chief Justice of Nigeria, governors, deputy governors, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Head of Service of the Federation.
Others are ministers, president of the Court of Appeal, justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge and Grand Khadi of a state, president of the Customary Court of Appeal, chairman of a local government/area council, vice chairman of a local government/area council and chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
Also entitled to police guards are President of the Senate, Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Speakers of State Houses of Assembly and Deputy Speakers of State Houses of Assembly.
Force Headquarters keeps mum
For more than one week, this reporter tried to obtain comment from the police spokesperson Moshood for the story. Moshood didn’t answer several calls to his mobile nor replied text messages sent to him.
In only one occasion, someone who said he was Moshood assistant answered the phone and said the spokesperson “was attending a meeting but will get back to you.” But subsequent calls and reminders to the mobile of the police image maker were left unanswered.