Cross River State governor, Sir Ben Ayade has advocated for an increase in the number of personnel as well as better welfare for police in the country.
Ayade who made the advocacy during a courtesy call on him by the Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Maigari Muhammad Dingyadi, on Wednesday said with a population of over 216 million, and a police force of 300,000 personnel, the ratio of police to citizens is rather too insignificant.
The Minister of Police Affairs was in the state to sensitize the public on the police public complaints committee.
Ayade who thanked Dingyadi for making Cross River his first port of call for his sensitization mission, said it was unusual to have a government organ sensitising the public on their right to complain about infractions committed against them by the police.
“I must confess that in my seven years as governor, you are the first Minister of Police Affairs that has taken this initiative to drive public consciousness and public awareness to the fact that they have a right of complain.
“I think this is one way that this country will recognize the fact that the government is sensitive to the public. By this gesture, you have shown that you understand and appreciate the potential abuse of power by our police officers. And so coming out with a campaign aimed at educating the public on their civic rights to protest by way of complain to you and to all the appropriate organs to raise concern where they feel that either their rights have been abused or their cases have not been handled properly is is indeed a welcome development.”
The governor also canvass for an improvement in the welfare of police personnel, adding: “Your visit is also an opportunity for me to say there are so many areas for the police to improve on, the issue of police welfare is well established and I am sure you are dealing with that. It is unheard of that the police will go on strike. So I am happy that you are dealing with the issues of their welfare but from my perspective I will be speaking from the point of a man who represents 4.2m Cross Riverians.
“The people are also feeling that the police number is too small. With a population of over 216 million people with a total number of police personell under 300,000 so the ratio of police to citizen is too insignificant for a country in a developing economy where it is expected that at this transition phase, the level of crime will be high. Therefore I will urge and plead with you to extend my concerns to Mr. President that if there is anything this country needs now, it is an increase in the number of police officers.”
The governor urged Cross Riverians to take advantage of the existence of the committee to report cases of police brutality in order to get justice.
Earlier, Dingyadi told the governor that the committee had been in existence in the ministry for a very long time “but it was very dormant before we came on board. So I got Mr President who gave me the brief and he agreed to fund it.
“And today we are here in Cross River and calabar will be the first state capital we are visiting to sensitize the public on the need for them to complain about the police and whatever issues they may be having.”
The Minister said he realized that it was not the best to ask police stations or even the police itself to investigate infractions of the police.