The acting Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar, in a recent meeting with top officials of the force explained the withdrawal of police orderly from some top personalities in the society saying that some of the top persons did not deserve it.
Prodded further by journalists who informed the IG that some persons in the society were still seen with police orderlies the IG retorted that some top business men actually deserved to have police orderlies attached to them.
The IG said that some businessmen have contributed immensely to the economic growth of the country and so deserved police orderlies attached to them. Many Nigerians who reacted to the statement averred that, the deployment of police officers as orderlies to certain individuals in the society is seen as a privilege which comes with a very high price.
The issue of police orderlies has become a recurring decimal in the annals of the nation's security operation. They place the issue against the backdrop of the number of police officers assigned for the entire nation.
The estimated number of police officers for the country of over 160 million people is little above 300,000. This figure is seen as a far cry from the basic requirement of the United Nations for a nation's policing vis-à-vis the population and the geographical range.
Nigerians may have started losing count on the number of times directive for the withdrawal of police orderlies was issued by successive IGPs. Virtually all the previous IGs gave a similar directive to address the issue of the large number of policemen on private duties without success.
IGs Tafa Balogun, Sunday Ehindero, Mike Okiro, Ogbonna Onovo and Hafis Ringim all predecessors of the current IG Abubakar issued a similar order on assumption of office, but could not enforce the directives for reasons best known to them.
Out of the just over 300,000 Nigerian police officers, it is estimated that over 100,000 of them are assigned to individuals who perhaps are not engaged in government activities. Incidentally, once a police officer is attached to an individual he turns himself into some sort of house-help as well as security guards in order to make some extra cash.
LEADERSHIP investigation reveals that besides the core duty of ensuring the security of the life and properties of the individual and his immediate family, he begins to earn an extra living by engaging in house chores and errand running for the person and for the person and all his households.
It is believed that the extra income the officer makes from the extra duty becomes the incentive for staying put on the job. And so, most of the time, when the IGs make pronouncements for the withdrawal of the police orderlies from private individuals, the orderlies who have become used to the 'job' loath the directive and make every effort to ensure that they are removed from the private duty post.
Going by the constitution, only the persons of the president, vice president, governors, local council chairman, magistrates and judges are empowered to police orderlies.
LEADERSHIP however learnt that bbesides these category of persons the demand for police orderlies by persons in the private sector is rising by the day. No thanks to the recurring incidents of killings, armed robberies and kidnapping.
Every businessman in the country who feels that he has the money to pay for it now demand for polce orderlies. Investigations show that the deployment of police orderlies by senior officers in the states and the federal capital has become a highly lucrative venture as more and more businessmen want to be seen with a police officer. To many of them it has become a sort of status symbol while to others it is the only way to look intimidating and influential.
Toeing the foot steps of his predecessors, the acting IG Abubakar on February 13, 2012, ordered the withdrawal of all approved police guards from private individuals and corporate bodies across the country.
This included officers of the Special Protection Unit, the Mobile Police Unit and conventional policemen assigned as guards to companies and influential citizens.
The IG who came into office spitting fire and expressing his determination to sanitise the force and rid it of corruption explained that the move became necessary because the privilege was being abused by individuals and benefitting police officers. The IG had added that his directive would be pursued with the requisite vigour and determination.
Abubakar had stated that the order would restore professionalism, efficiency and integrity in the performance of police duties, and that it would ensure service delivery to the people.
However, it turned out that the directive was not implemented with the zest it was given. Many individuals and corporate organizations were still enjoying the privilege of having police orderlies by their side while the orderlies themselves who could not resist the allure of being attached to money bags still clung the men.
Many Nigerian who have reacted to the controversy over police orderlies have called for the strengthening of the private security firms and making it available for private businessmen who feel they must have extra security personnel around them.
According to those who spoke with LEADERSHIP, with so many police officers assigned to individuals it becomes easy not to find police officers to deploy to sensitive spots in times of trouble.
Mr. Magnus Ibeh a businessman told LEADSERSHIP that if one businessman should be entitled to police orderlies then all businessmen with registered business should also be entitled to it.
According to him, what is good for the geese is also good for the gander. He pointed out that every hard working Nigerian is contributing to the growth of this country in their own way and should be accorded respect for their contributions.
"Why would we not have a recurring story of how armed robbers on the highways robbed and raped their victims for hour with any interruption from the security operatives. Most of them are securing the homes of big and important person.
Even when these big men travel out of the country with their entire families the police orderlies are made to sit at home and watch over their pets which are usually not taken along during such vacations.
"Nigeria claims to be the giant of Africa but they are finding it difficult to get their acts right. How can one man be entitled to a police officer in a country where 200 to 300 citizens cannot get the help of one police officer.
Why wont more people take the law into their hands when the officers who should be watching over the entire country are inside some air conditioned home either sleeping or just eating.
The Force PRO Mr. Olusola Amore did not pick his calls when he was contacted to respond to the issue. An officer at the force headquarters who however pleaded anonymity said the IG was determined to carry out the order to the letters. According to him the IG has not shown any sign that he was merely sounding off .
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