We need support to close the gap between the public and police – Bosinde Araikpe


* Society must reward good policemen to

* CEO of search party, Bosinde Araikpe, says good policemen are hardly celebrated

Osy Nelson

Long ago, a policeman was a citizen’s friend. Not anymore! Now, most citizens view the policeman with bitterness and suspicion. Some love to kill the cop. The result is widening gap between the citizens and the police and a beak down of the social infrastructure that oils the security machinery. Now, an enthusiastic expert and security consultant, Bosinde Araikpe, has launched a search for the ‘Right Policeman’, both as an ideal, a concept and a human face in the police in Nigeria and beyond. Backed by his non-governmental organisation (NGO), Amb Bosinde Araikpe Global Peace Initiative, the expert has launched a scheme to not only identify the ‘Right Policeman’ but to promote the right attitude in the police and to close the gap between the police as a force and members of the public.

Araikpe, who was conferred with the status of an ambassador for peace, is a security activist, consultant, and a public speaker who talks about security tips and who helps people to understand how to approach the police. He gives general security initiatives, too. He so far carries out hs security activism by organizing the annual ‘The Police Is Your Friend’ and ‘Security Bridge with Bosinde Live”, a monthly. Of late, his organization introduced free water scheme to policemen on duty. He does this by making safe water available at all branches of ‘The Promise Fast Food’.

Closing the perception gap in security

In an interview with Silver News in Port Harcourt, Araikpe said: “We do this because we realize the problem we have between police and the public is mostly communication. What we do is try to bridge the gap. We believe that security is everybody’s business. For that to be, everybody must be on the same page. So, our organization focuses on bridging that gap through seminars, symposiums, events, campaigns, etc. We even in between situations intervene to assist members of the public to assist the police and other security agencies with regard to what they are doing, requiring our attention. It could be correctional or interventional. We assist members of the public to get access to relevant authorities. We try to seek out what we call the ‘Right Policeman’.

The Right Policeman

Araikpe described the ‘Right Policeman’ as the one that cannot be unduly influenced to go against justice in a case. “An example of a Right Policeman is the one that stands on the road rejects N100 offer on an offence, if he is an inspector, and sees N100 as nothing. At that point, he is a right policeman. If the matter gets to N10,000, it may not be possible for him to say no. At that time, the matter has to be for his bosses, may be a Divisional Police Officer (DPO). If he says no, that DPO now is “The Right Policeman’. So, we help the public to access that policeman that cannot be biased for whatever reasons, that is the ‘Right Policeman’.

He went on: “Now, we help the public to get access to this kind of policemen and also help the police to understand the public. It is important for the public to understand why the police do what they do. We help them to know what the police need and how they should be approached. We go round to talk to groups on how to do these and if they have any issue, we help them get to the appropriate channels.”

The CEO gave examples and showed what some policemen did to be identified as ‘The Right Policeman’ and what his organization does to anyone so identified. “One good example is the present Commissioner of Police, Zaki Mohammed Ahmed. I call him so because I have seen him handle many cases. Remember how Rivers State was before he came here, especially the political scandals about the two rival parties here, APC and PDP. Remember how he has worked between these two, which is something most policemen will not handle well. There was frequent transfer of CPs here but this one has always done the right thing.”

Another such policeman, he disclosed, is the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Inspector General of Police Monitoring Unit, the Ben Igwe. Araikpe said Igwe participates actively in rescuing kidnapped persons, but yet is very respectful to the Command, and to any state where he served.

Another ‘Right Policeman’, he noted, is the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations. Even within the police hierarchy, he said, they know him as a no-nonsense person, that is Stephen Hasso, who he said would engage one with full straightforwardness and goes ahead to do what he needed to do.

He went on: “Another Right Policeman I know serves as the current DPO of Rumuolumini police division. He was the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) of Mile One. He is one person that has faced big money offer but refused to accept and refused to be intimidated. I know one particular case where he intercepted some movement of vans full of drinks but rejected initial N20,000 offer. The group kept increasing the offer till it got to N500,000 but he kept saying no, and arrested the people. Investigation revealed that they were always stealing drinks from their master’s warehouse in Diobu. Further investigations revealed they had been stealing and it added up to N50m loss to the owner. This earned him elevation to DPO.”

He went on: “Now these are all officers and we have many more with proofs. There are some rank-and-file who have been outstanding in this regard. I have seen policemen who give lifts from Emohua in those days of serious kidnap in that place. They would lift people away from danger to their houses in PH, not for any inducement but as police duty. I have seen policemen who assist stranded persons in bush areas. Some help people change tyres so that can keep moving. One in Olu Obasanjo lost his life recently trying to be the ‘Right Policeman’ while changing tyre for someone.

No celebration for good policemen

The Nigerian populace seems satisfied lashing out at policemen who did bad. They also lump all policemen as bad eggs. For this, the many others that do good every day seem to remain uncelebrated. “That is why most of what we do is celebrate them. Such policemen are many but the bad that some do gets highly promoted because bad news is good news. We are trying our best to do this.”

Asked if one NGO can change all this and reward all good policemen; and whether there could be an official mechanism to identify and reward outstanding policemen, the CEO said it was what his outfit and others desired without it being done. “Our target is that countries like Nigeria are able to celebrate servicemen. The US has one big example for veterans and servicemen. What we are pushing as an NGO is to push that culture of celebration and make it official to a point that the Government can celebrate such security personnel. They earn meager salaries that cannot take them home. But, these people carry arms. Look, arms can bring money; that is the truth. They need to be well trained to act well. In as much as we do not take excuses on corruption, but we must also agree that people who carry arms should be properly remunerated and celebrated. We will continue to press for this.” He agreed that a foundation or fund could be set up so that when a policeman does something outstanding, they could be screened and be given big appreciation? Willing companies and individuals can contribute to this.

Security Bridge with Bosinde Live

The security expert said his NGO was actually pursuing the idea through their programme called ‘Security Bridge with Bosinde Live’ every last Sunday of the month. He said it helps to push such courses. “By the grace of God, the September edition would dwell on how the public can monitor the right policeman. It holds at Golden Tulip Hotel, a four-star hotel on Evo Road in the GRA 2. We have the privilege to host top police officers to meet with the public. We will host the officer in charge of IG’s monitoring unit in Rivers State. The first edition was held in October 2017. We honour policemen that stood out but we lack funds to back it up. We only issue certificates.”

Why we honour outstanding policemen from rank-and-file

We appeal for funds to support these policemen. We must promote goodness in the policemen for the sake of the public. One of those we will appreciate this period is the Best Traffic Officer, the second is the Best Crime Fighter, and the third is the Friendliest Policeman. These three awardees must be within the rank-and-file. This is because we understand some welfare challenges in the lower ranks of the Nigerian police. Here, sacrifice is more appreciated. Public appreciation is a boost to their morale. We seek to use these persons to boost the image of the police and to show that there were policemen that can stand out in things that are good. Others will want to be honoured because appreciation is what everybody wants in life.

Transparency and appeals for support

We are now looking for partners to create a police system we all desire. Our NGO has spent the little it has into this passion. We believe Nigeria is a collective agenda. There must be real change if we wanted it. This country has potentials and we want to be part of those making it to happen. If we can make the police to be friends to the public, much will be achieved. We expect corporate entities and governments to extend help. Our organization is properly registered as an NGO and our accounts are open. Those who support us are made partners and they would be made to help spend the funds.

Policy: We must write the statement of spending of any donation we got to the donor. Transparency is our secret pillar because corruption kills initiative. Many people have abused privileges in this country using NGOs. We want to earn the trust of the public and our partners. When donors are satisfied, they give more. We have an agenda to bridge the gap between security agencies and the public.

We have a board as a matter of law and we account to both the board and each donor.

Free water

We have launched a free traffic water scheme. We place water at all branches of The Promise Fast Food in Rivers State where traffic officers and policemen pick up free bottled water when they feel thirsty. We chose The Promise because they are everywhere in Rivers State. Testimonies and words of appreciation have been flooding in from policemen. If we get support, we can go further. We can pay school fees for children of good officers, float scholarships for them, etc. No matter what we do, we must understand that being in any of the security agencies is not an easy job. It does not allow you to settle. Most times, your family is left to suffer pains. Sometimes, the job will put your life on the line. We must show empathy to these people. Cutting the level of need for policemen will help. By supporting those that do good, we would have removed greed from them. This will encourage them to do well.

We do skills acquisition for wives of policemen. We also encourage those who support us to also come out to see what we do with it. Be part of the running of this organization. You can see the projects we have. You can help to hand over the cash support too. We rely on integrity. I have been doing this for years.

The police of our dream is possible and the Nigeria of police dream is also possible. Bridging the gap is a two-way thing; the police, the public.

We come across bad policemen

Yes, we have come across bad policemen, especially at traffic check points. We come across a lot of things. One thing we also do not do is obstruction of justice. The policeman understands the law. We are carefully looking into how these happen and we have seen that every policeman is wise enough to have a reason for actions they take. An example is the issue of receiving N100 on the road from drivers. If you check well, the drivers do not have their documents fully. A policeman has the right to caution you and let you go or take you to the station. Often, the drivers do not want to go to the station. They want to settle. People should be right and complete to avoid having to settle. Let it be that everything is complete and he takes money from you. Honestly, if we get that kind of report, we will push it to the end. We are fighting a right cause. Policemen are also not stupid. Do not play into their hands. We have seen police officers who apologized when found wrong. We have DPOs (CSP Ikuri) who go round and deal with policemen doing wrong. The station officer in Olu Obasanjo, DSP John Abah, has done a lot on that. DCP Haso once drove down to Waterlines when he got report of extortion going on and arrested policemen and brought them back to the Command.

We have also started going round to organizations including churches to educate them on the place of the policeman. We show them how to monitor the police. We also give out security tips and numbers. If the police can educate the public and tell them what they can do, people will behave properly. Knowledge is key and the lack of it creates perceptions. People perish for lack of knowledge. Giving knowledge to the public is a step in curbing corruption in the police.

That why each time a forum is organized on this, people ask such questions as: “Who asked you to do this work; how can you be supporting the police, how much does the police command pay you? They ask; why is police very corrupt? They mention road collection. I explain. I tell them, this work am doing must be done by somebody, one way or the other. I am a citizen and people need to hear from the mouth of a fellow civilian like them.

I tell them that I am not paid by anybody. The police does not make law but merely enforce it. If you want change, change the law.

Get your lawmakers change any law you do not like. The police did not employ me, so they cannot pay me. I am doing this out of a zeal. It is to serve God and humanity. The essence of my living is service. A life without service is a waste. Mandela is a shining example. That value is what I am making out. I want to be part of the growth of this country.

 The police is one very sensitive agent that can lead to other sections. It will help our democracy. I see it as the reason why I was born. Sometimes, one’s destiny is written ahead.

Some policemen also get sanctioned (disciplined) due to our activities. Some get reposted. Formations get changed as a result of our work. People must fight to get things done. Even in the US, people fought for things to be right. I am making my own sacrifice.

Many people want to know how I make a living. I tell them that by the grace of God, I do full time service to humanity, but I have deep knowledge in security. So, I render security consultancy.

Future of the search

This is a global project. We are already in the global stage through internet. We have police having issues even in the US, South Africa, India, China. We can be called upon to come and solve it anywhere if we can get it right here. We have ideas that can help other countries. The world can be a better place.

We expect people to come together and help to make things work.