There are indications that some politicians, business leaders, and other Very Important Persons may have lobbied police authorities to get waivers to retain their police orderlies.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had in a police wireless message dated October 21, 2020 to all state Commissioners of Police, ordered the withdrawal of police orderlies attached to VIPs like politicians, business leaders and entertainers.
Adamu, however, exempted police orderlies attached to government houses and others attached to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The wireless signal with reference number, CB:4001/DOPS/SPU/FHQ/ABU/VOL./ORDER AND DIRECTIVES, was signed by the AIPOL, Protect, Force Headquarters, Abuja.
It read in part, “INGENPOL directs you withdraw all protect personnel yours attached to all VIPs except those attached to Government Houses, Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives with immediate effect.
“Any ‘protect’ personnel found escorting or guarding any VIP with or without a firearm is deemed to be deployed by the commander and the commander will be sanctioned.”
It further directed the affected personnel to report to their respective command Commissioner of Police.
However, three days after the deadline of the directive, routine checks has revealed that some senators, members of the House of Representatives, business leaders and some top politicians who are not constitutionally allowed to have police orderlies are still keeping them.
Some senators who were still using police orderlies told one of our correspondents that they had settled the matter with the IG.
A security detail of one of the senators also told one of our correspondents on the condition of anonymity that he was not affected by the IG’s order.
He said, “The issue of withdrawing security details attached to senators have been sorted out with the IGP. We are not affected.”
A senator who also spoke on condition of anonymity said the senate leadership had resolved the matter with the police authorities.
“We are public officers who are exposed to attacks and it will not augur well if we are further exposed to danger when the police details are withdrawn,” he said.
Some other senators who also spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed to us that their police orderlies were still with them.
Adamu’s predecessors also issued similar directives which were observed in breach of the order.
Business leaders retain police orderlies
One of our correspondents also observed that while entertainers, local government chairmen and some party chieftains had their police orderlies withdrawn or reduced, several captains of industry, as well as ex-governors, living in highbrow areas such as Banana Island and Ikoyi in Lagos still had theirs intact.
For instance, the All Progressives Congress leader and former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, was also seen with his police orderlies shortly before briefing the press at the Lagos State Government House while Rapid Response Squad patrol vans were seen parked in front of his home at Bourdillon, Ikoyi on Saturday.
The Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law No 11 Official Gazette of Lagos State, 2007 states that former governors of the state are entitled to several perks, including houses, vehicles and security which includes eight policemen and two officials of the Department of State Services for life.
But a top police source who wished to remain anonymous said the police had tagged some persons as ‘very very important persons’ like captains of industry and former governors even though these categories of persons were not included in the original directive.
He said, “The IG ordered that we withdraw policemen from VIPs but there are certain categories of persons who we know their lives could easily come under threat if their protection is withdrawn, especially during this period of insecurity in Lagos.
“Tinubu falls into this category because he is a target. Of course, you don’t expect us to withdraw the policemen attached to billionaires on Banana Island, captains of industry, bank chief executives who could easily be attacked or kidnapped. Such persons are VVIPs.”
We however, learnt that police escorts had been withdrawn from several other “less important persons” like entertainers and political party chieftains.
A party official who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said, “I have had police escorts for several years. However, on Friday, they were suddenly withdrawn from me at very short notice.
“I will try to get through to the IGP. If that doesn’t work, I would request civil defence guys since they also carry weapons.”
PSC, •Ex-CP, former DSS director condemn police protection for individuals
Speaking with one of our correspondents on Saturday, the Spokesman for the Police Service Commission, Ikechukwu Ani, said the IG’s directive was a step in the right direction. He said the PSC was working on a database to capture all policemen.
He said, “We are currently working on the database for the police. However, what we hear is that there are between 350,000 and 370,000 policemen in the system. This is not a definite figure but we are working on an accurate database.”
A former Director of the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, also said anyone who felt his life was under threat should employ private security guards.
“I don’t support the burning of private properties but it seems the poor are now revolting. I have been saying that rich politicians should pay more attention to security in the country. We have less than 400,000 policemen and about 150,000 are with VIPs. This class segregation is too much,” Ejiofor said.
Also speaking with newsmen, a former Commissioner of Police, Frank Odita, hailed the IG for the directive.
Odita said the withdrawal of policemen from VIPs must be permanent and total.
The retired police officer said, “Why should one VIP have five policemen while people do not have protection? The United Nations recommends one policeman to 400 people. When I was in service, we had more policemen on the streets patrolling.
“The Force should return to its corporate duty of protecting the lives of members of the public. I am a retired police commissioner; I have no police driver or orderly. I don’t need it because I don’t live a flamboyant lifestyle.
“When I see some pastors moving with police escorts, I laugh. I have worked in the UK, America and even in France as an Interpol officer. I never saw policemen escorting VIPs. Even in the UK, I witnessed the prime minister moving without escorts but here, even local government chairmen move with policemen.”
A retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), Adedayo Adeoye, also endorsed the withdrawal of policemen attached to politicians, noting that the Special Protection Unit responsible for giving out police orderlies should be scrapped.
He argued that the politicians had more policemen than the majority of Nigerians, noting that the rich could afford to hire private security for their protection.
Adeoye described the deployment of policemen to guard VIPs as a waste of manpower, stressing that only those constitutionally required to have police orderlies such as the President, Vice President, Senate President, the Speaker, House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and state governors should enjoy special police protection.
He stated, “The SPU should be scrapped, there is no need for special protection for anybody, we are all Nigerians. The politicians are not entitled to it. In fact, the poor need the police more than the rich; the rich can employ security men.
“I was happy when I heard that the IG was withdrawing police orderlies from politicians. They should scrap the SPU and the President should not bring it back because some of them would go and plead with him to rescind that decision.”
Criticising the formation of the unit, the retired DIG said, “When I was in the force, there was nothing like the SPU. It was one IG who just woke up and started creating unnecessary units but there is no need for it. Why should we be protecting some people specially?
“Now, every politician has two policemen going around with them and there are no policemen to carry out investigations or patrol. Attaching policemen to politicians is a waste of manpower. The politicians are getting a lot of money, so they should engage
private security guards,” he insisted.
Speaking in the same vein, a former Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Olusola Amore, expressed support for the move, noting that the fragmentation of the force had adversely affected manpower deployment.
He submitted that the authorities were not recruiting as many police officers as the numbers leaving the force annually, adding that young police officers also preferred working as orderlies to politicians than engaging in core policing duties.
According to him, many policemen have been moving from the Police Mobile Force to the SPU and Counter-Terrorism Unit to avoid core policing work.
Amore, who was a former force spokesman noted, “The police are to protect the lives and property of both the rich and the poor; we should stop the idea of ‘cash and carry police,’ where people who have money would pay to have police guards. And it has become an ego trip in Nigeria.
“Some of the policemen don’t even guard the person they are attached to; the man would pay just for the policeman to carry his bag and madam’s (wife) bag. At times, you feel embarrassed when you see policemen doing odd jobs. I once accosted a policeman at the airport for carrying two bags. I support the idea of scrapping SPU to increase the number of policemen on the field.”
A former Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said police assets had been deployed for the protection of few privileged individuals for too long, stating that the police should now refocus on protecting the people, against the backdrop of the #EndSARS protests.
We have recorded substantial compliance, says Force PRO
Speaking with one of our correspondents on Saturday, the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Frank Mba, said the police had recorded substantial compliance.
He said the directive was not targeted at policemen attached to former governors, captains of industry and a few others even though these categories of persons were not exempted from the directive in the police signal.
Mba, however, said entertainers were not entitled to such protection.
“The police signal was not for your consumption but for policemen and that is why you are not interpreting it properly. All ex-governors are entitled to protection. There are also certain categories of very important persons like international businessmen who are entitled to police protection.
“Those who deserve personal protection will not be affected,” Mba said.
Asked how many policemen had been withdrawn from VIPs, Mba said he could not immediately divulge the information.
He, however, said many policemen had been withdrawn and had been deployed to protect several government establishments, malls and public places.
Meanwhile, the PSC had said in 2018 that over 150,000 policemen were attached to VIPs and unauthorised persons in the country.
The commission put the current total number of policemen at an estimated 370,000 which means about 40 per cent of the police are attached to private persons.
The figure indicates that Nigeria has failed to meet the United Nations recommendation which is 340 police officers per 100,000 people or a minimum police strength of 220 per 100,000 people.