IMPERATIVE OF DRONES IN POLICING IN NIGERIA

In view of the existence of ungoverned spaces, under-served areas, low personnel ratio, and limited resources available to the Nigeria Police Force policing the country appears like rocket science. However, there is a need for an eye in the sky to provide superior intelligence to security agencies that would enable professionalism, high performance, and adequate reaction time to tame criminals in our society.

The era of application of native intelligence by criminal investigative and intelligence officers on the task of tracking criminals has gone into oblivion due to the availability of the tools in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the modern world that have enabled police, military and intelligence community to carry out their tasks seamlessly.

The period of blindly deploying rank and file of policemen to dangerous operations to combat sophisticated criminals should be reviewed because the lives of our policemen are crucial to the sustainability of the peace and growth of the nation.

Nigeria’s Police force is tackling numerous issues such as terrorism, kidnapping, banditry, burglar, armed robberies, religious crisis, farmers-herders crises, family quarrels, cultists, fraud, unauthorized protests, prostitution, homicide, drug abuse, etc.

The proliferation of non-state actors in the country trying to impose authority for their selfish ends has compounded the existing security situations. They cash in on the prevailing situations to up their games and confuse the citizens on the need for alternative protection.

It is a fact that our security officers are vulnerable to unexpected attacks from criminals during their official duty on the road, unprotected from unidentified criminals carrying weapons and unlawful things. These have exposed them to numerous dangerous attacks from criminals and ethnic-centric agents. They are easily picked out from the crowd because of their distinct uniform and the space they occupy on our streets and ungoverned spaces.

The inherent trait of brutality in the human beings that Thomas Hobbes classified in “State of Nature” as being brutish, nasty, and short is manifesting on a large scale in the country now and nihilist’s eyes have been blurred to realize that those policemen on the street are our brothers, sisters, and neighbors that are experiencing the same frustration in the country need to be protected too.

Previous neglect of the police sector had led to the diminished application of procedures and standards, manpower gaps, lack of equipment, depreciating welfare packages, disloyalty, insubordination, and greed to acquire wealth by all means within the police ecosystem.

The force has mirrored the anti-value of the society it was created to curb, to enforce rules and regulations that would make individuals and groups conscious of the consequences of their actions and behave with civility in the country.

However, kudos must be given to rank and file for their performance and success in unreeving kidnapping, armed robbery, burglars, one-chance thieves, and rioters despite the unfriendly environment it operates. The success of the police in unreeving kidnapping, and armed robbery in the country is not yet appreciated by the majority of the masses.

In comparative terms, if we aggregate the number of successes NPF has recorded in curbing and arresting criminals, kidnappers, and others surpasses the 5% success of these criminal elements in the society which social and traditional media projected to the citizens.

In addition, it is a fact that societal ills which have permeated society have been reflected in the output of some rank and file in the field. Some negligible percentage of the rank and file in the field are creating image problems for the police ecosystem which subsequently reduce the confidence of the citizens to partner with the force.

The top echelon of the police ecosystem is not relenting. Recently, a retreat on an inter-agency collaboration workshop organized by the Ministry of Police Affairs has brought to the fore the need to re-strategize and deepen one of the fundamental ideas of promoting peace, safety, and security in Nigeria.

The need for interagency collaboration for the overall benefits of Nigeria’s security growth, the building of mutual trust, and proper management of information during joint operations have been reiterated and brought to the fore by stakeholders in the security ecosystem.

They are to speak with one voice during the press conference; improve the network of communications and explicit knowledge of code and servers during joint operations; effective liaison is to be encouraged at both strategic and operational levels.

 Furthermore,  stakeholders agreed that peer knowledge of sister agencies’ roles and responsibilities should be encouraged; capacity building on Inter-agency cooperation for the junior cadre of all the security agencies should be introduced; formulation and adoption of a policy framework for inter-agency cooperation and Introduction of security studies in secondary and tertiary institutions in Nigeria are highly recommended as part of communique agreed at the workshop by security agencies in the country recently.

At the retreat, participants agreed that stakeholders should be able to outline the responsibilities of the Ministry, Police Service Commission, Nigeria Police Force, and other agencies in the area of collaboration and authority should be bold enough to apportion blame involving security men after a thorough investigation into sister agencies’ conflicts.

The commitment of the Ministry of Police Affairs to facilitate the provision of equipment through its budgetary allocation and the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) to the Police is commendable and more needs to be done to ensure that this equipment is within the use of divisional police stations in the country to facilitate effective response time.

Recently Federal Government procured a number of buffalo-branded vehicles/armoured vehicles, bulletproof vests, protective helmets, drugs, and medical equipment procured by the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF). It also procured Arms & Ammunition, riot control equipment, and combat equipment for the Police Special Weapon and Tactical Squad (SWAT). Additional operational assets were procured by the Ministry and Nigeria Police Force in 2023.

We are not yet there now in respect of infrastructure that would enable the NPF to perform optimally and the need for the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) to partner with the private sector to ensure that there is no duplication of provision of equipment to the police.

Where we are supposed to be now is for a divisional police station to be able to muster a police crack team that can intervene on issues of kidnapping, and banditry with required equipment such as armored vehicles, bulletproof vests and protective helmets, and tracking drones that will relate the movement of criminals to the taskforce for effective and efficient response and execution of the task at hands.

An overview of the police operation revealed the gap in modern equipment such as drones that would provide immense advantages in tackling criminals, bandits, Kidnappers, and terrorists in the country is not available to the police at area command or divisional levels and there is the urgent need for both government and private sector to look into this gap.

One of the critical needs of police presently is the provision of drones, armored vehicles, and tracking devices on operational vehicles. The private sector in collaboration with NPTF can come in to provide this critical infrastructure that would enable rapid response, and protection to rank and file that will boost their confidence to confront criminals as well as energize hope to the citizens of this nation that they have police to protect them.

The value of drones in law enforcement has been unequivocal. It is user-friendly and the operator doesn’t need years of training to put the drone to effective use. It will keep police officers out of harm’s way, to helping them achieve results not possible in any other way, and make our society safer.

Drones can cover territory much more quickly and efficiently than officers can on foot or even by vehicle. Moreover, drones can get under tree cover, or between buildings, to access places that helicopters cannot. When equipped with a thermal camera, a drone can easily spot a lost or missing person hidden under rubble, undergrowth, or even at night.

As the Private Sector Coalition has decided to intervene in the security sector, it is highly imperative for them to synergize with the Ministry of Police Affairs, Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF), and Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to avoid duplication of needs of the NPF and this will enable them to provide right equipment and software that would enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the force.

The incoming Minister of Police Affairs has his work cut out for him and the need to provide effective leadership in the police ecosystem to coordinate both agencies under its supervision and private sector contributions to the police ecosystem.

He/she has to fastrack implementation of an Act enacted by the National Assembly on the Nigeria Police Force Training Institutions that will provide professional training and other related matters.

Not only that, facilitation of tracking devices for police assets in the country, especially the patrol vehicles, and accurate data on all the operational vehicles provided by the Federal and state governments, private sector, and non-governmental organizations in the country.

Continue capacity building on emotional intelligence aimed at increasing self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, for improved service delivery by the rank and file of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and rehabilitation of police stations and barracks in several parts of the country.

The incoming Minister must address the present lack of trust by a larger percentage of the citizens and the inability of the general public and police ecosystem to have a cordial relationship that would boost the confidence of both sectors to improve the security of lives and properties in the country.

The fear is palpable in some regions because of vested interest, incessant destruction of property, and harassment of the citizens and there is the need to calm fray nerves and give them the guarantee that once their rights are violated there is a channel to seek redress and get justice.

The incoming Minister has to reassure Nigerians that Police Public Complaints Committee (PPCC) is there for them If men in uniform molest them, they have the right channel to seek redress. The general public has a platform to lay their complaints whenever there is the need to do so and to be assured, they will get justice at the end of the day, this will diffuse tension in the country.

Bolaji O. Kazeem

Head of Press and Public Relations Unit
Ministry of Police Affairs

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