The reluctance of Nigerian Policemen to conduct proper basic
investigations into criminal cases is a major reason they drag
unnecessarily, and in many instances, get dismissed on grounds of lack of
diligent prosecution, a former Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and
Solicitor-General of Lagos State, Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey has said.
He said that Police officers were so accustomed to not going through the
standard investigative process that all efforts to change their approach
to doing things the right way have failed so far.
Addressing students at the launch of The Halogen School of Security
Management & Technology, (HSSM&T)’s maiden Professional MBA in Security
Management programme, (In partnership with Babcock University) the ex
prosecutor said, “The standard approach when someone is arrested is you
take his photograph, then you take his fingerprints and then his height
for the purpose of identification but I was DPP for two years and I didn’t
see a single photograph in any file which I thought was weird. How do you
find out whether this person has been involved in a prior for example? The
most fundamental element of criminal investigation, is fingerprinting yet
the last case where fingerprints were used to convict in a Nigerian court
was in 1964. This was the case of a burglar who left his fingerprints on
the louvre of the house he went to burgle. We have tried to get the Police
to use anything, even if it’s the old model of pads and paper to document
fingerprints but they just don’t want it anymore.”
Arthur-Worrey decried the dearth of experts in the force, noting that it
wasn’t always this bad with Nigerian Policemen as he recalled with
nostalgia, his days as a public prosecutor in Lagos when according to him,
Police Officers carried out their duties wonderfully.
He said, “We had wonderful experts in every field. We had great facilities
like the lab in Oshodi which I relied on when I was a prosecutor in the
early eighties. They were good at blood work, they were good at pathology
and they knew their stuff. Then the Police had the best ballistician, I
knew a guy who was a handwriting analyst, trained in Wales, he used to
come to court in his blazer and he just used to intimidate the defense
counsel. He was just good.
“Nobody does ballistics anymore. When last did you hear of a case that
involved ballistics, unlike Oscar Pistorious’ case where the emphasis was
on the science of it. It underscores the damage being done by the
conflation of security with law enforcement.”
He commended the HSSM&T for taking the initiative as the first to offer a
masters degree in Security Management in a University setting. He noted
that programmes uniquely tailored to solve problems of security and law
enforcement were long overdue as Nigerians could simply no longer depend
on the Police alone.
He also urged the Halogen Security Company to go a step further as
industry leaders to offer professional support to the Police in law
enforcement through the deployment of different levels of scientific
private detective strategies including fingerprint lifting/analysis,
surveillance, evidence collection and preservation and many more.
Tracing the origin of the decline in Police efficiency, Arthur-Worrey
averred that the root of the problem was the military rule, which paid
more attention to ‘regime security’, undermining the critical element of
law enforcement in the process. This he said, has systematically eroded
the capacity of Nigerian policemen over the years.
“We eroded police capacity because of military rule, and its own
perception of security and its inability to distinguish between security
and law enforcement. This is a critical understanding.
“When we say national security in Africa, we mean to say ‘regime
security’, they’re not really concerned with the regular people so all the
resources go to the regime security which is why the convoy culture has
become so dominant, taking one third of armed Policemen off the streets
into the houses, vehicles etcetera of not just the politically exposed
persons (PEPs) but also private people, Chinese etc. Some people can just
wander into the CP’s office and say ‘I need a Policeman’ he will quickly
acquiesce and those policemen love it. This is a de emphasis on law
enforcement which is a very demanding, meticulous area that leads to
convictions in court,” Arthur-Worrey submitted.