On appointment, one recurring refrain among police chiefs in Nigeria, whether commissioner of police or Inspector General of Police is “no more roadblocks, or toll blocks on the roads”. It has become very predictable. And the recently appointed Acting IGP, Suleiman Abba did not disappoint the public while stating his areas of focus.
Expectedly, also, the new Western Port Commissioner of Police, Hilda Ibifuro-Harrison has equally condemned extortion by police men at the port, saying she would fight corruption. But the truth is that they have only recited the usual lines to get the buy-in of the stakeholders at first, and afterward, usually they turn out to be the worst.
Therefore, Harrison and Abba may be dancing to the old hidden tunes of the Nigeria Police Force. They could decide to carve a niche for themselves, however. This, Nigerians and stakeholders doubt so much when the IGP who pronounced “no roadblocks” action went speaking for roadblocks on a life NTA programme: Tuesday Live. He saw nothing bad in policemen blocking the roads, and demand for vehicle particulars and the money that goes with it.
Consequently, observers and callers wanted to know what a roadblock is. He did not provide answer other than justify the action.
In Apapa, Lagos State policemen, to say the least, have become a terror on trailer or truck drivers as well as port users who gain entry into the port for daily economic activities. It got to a point when a policeman said they had a target to meet and remit to their superiors in the office.
Media report, recently had also alleged that Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in Apapa meet in the CPs office for meetings and remit their collection on weekly basis.
The question remains: Can Madam Harrison fight this monster? This underlines the general feelings of the maritime stakeholders when she had a working visit to some key operators.
Her mission was simply, to seek the synergy and platform that will engender seamless running of maritime affairs and enabling security devoid of breach.
Speaking during the visits, she said: “We have been talking on how to synergise to move the security of the port forward. We have talked about issues relating to challenges; the traffic gridlock is known to all of you so I want to place my men to work more on ground with port security men to ensure that the traffic flows, the much we can do within the limit of the logistics available.
“Some of the infrastructure are getting dilapidated but we must supervise the men more to ensure that they are on their traffic points and the traffic gridlock will come to an end. We have also talked about the need for the port security to synergise with members of the Nigeria Police Force so that we could share intelligence and information to nip in the bud any untoward event happening here.
“I want to work and change the attitude of my men to the job. I want all police officers working here to key into the vision of the IGP, Abba Suleiman to ensure that the Nigeria Police Force is placed on the map as the leading national efficient and professional police force working with all the stakeholders in the port here under my command and to ensure security is well in place.
However, the statutory job of the Nigerian police is to ensure security of lives and property in the society and to enforce the laws of the country. In doing this, investigations, detection of crime, arrest, detention and arraignment before a competent court of jurisdiction are the tools employed to achieve optimum results at their jobs.
It is often said that the security of a nation is not only in the hands of the police alone but the entire members of the society who are expected to synergise to put an end to any form of corruption and insecurity.
The visit is paramount because it takes the operators to know the terrain, culture and the people around them better hence it becomes possible for them to fish out any act of anomaly or attitude that negates the norm of the society or the working environment.
It is on this premise that Commissioner, Hilda Ibifuro-Harrison in company of his senior officers took it upon themselves to visit some key stakeholders in the maritime industry who are strategic to operations in the port so as to further build upon the legacies achieved by her predecessors and to also carve a niche for herself and her men by totally wiping out the much talked about corruption in the port, if possible.
During her visits, she kept speaking the same language that she would not condone any form of indiscipline, corruption within the force and in the port in general while promising to rise to the occasion against illegal extortion variously reported among the security operatives in the port environment.
She added that the visit was germane to smooth operations within the port which is keeping to the rule of law as well as doing all possible to cut the excesses of her officers as well as re-engineering their orientation to suit her style of operation.
Among those visited were the Lagos Port Complex, the Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL), AP Moller Terminals (APMT), Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).
During her visit, the new port police boss was consistently soliciting the help from the stakeholders as well as telling people about the strides of the new IGP.
When confronted with the alleged extortion by police officers and other security operatives from truck drivers before allowing them access into the port, she said she was always comfortable discussing the topic of corruption, adding it was a glaring menace that can be seen by all and nobody is doing anything to curb. She said anyone who fears God and respects him or herself will never indulge in any form of bribery and corruption.
She said that a mutual platform should be created to flush out corruption and insecurity out of the port.
At the headquarters of NAGAFF, the National President of the association, Chief Eugene Nweke promised that the association has always had a cordial relationship with the police and her tenure would not be an exception.
The founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam who read the sternness of the CP from her voice, stated that for you to be a friend of the CP, you must be law abiding even as he enjoined members of the association that it would no longer going to be business as usual, and called on them to change their approach to work.
He quipped that the security of Nigeria is in the hands of Nigerians so, efforts should be put together to nip corruption in the bud.
At GDNL, the Deputy Group Managing Director, Dangote Sugar, Engr. Abdullahi Sule said that the terminal was ready to assist the police in any capacity to be able to carry out its function with ease and to achieve its resolve to cleanse the port of corruption.
The Managing Director (MD) of ABTL, Capt. Mohammed Bashir also promised to work with the police to sanitise the port from any form of corruption said, that had always been their practice from onset.
In the same vein, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of APMT promised to support the police with whatever they need in their operations.
However, the new CP has read riot acts to both officers and the public, but does it really mean that there will be a new order in the port policing? Anyway, time will tell.