Nigeria: Britain to help restructure police force

Abuja (Nigeria) – Nigeria has asked its form er colonial master Britain for help in restructuring the police force it bequeathed to its former colony at independence in 1960, according to Interior Minister Godwin Abbe.

Abbe announced in the capital city of Abuja Monday the request was made by President Umaru Yar'Adua when he met British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the sidelines of the just-concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala, Uganda.

He said following the request, which is aimed at improving the security situation in the country, the President directed him to constitute a committee of retired and senior police officers to work out details of the required assistance. "The extent of involvement will be determined by the committee that will be set up," the Minister said.

The Nigeria Police, with an estimated 350,000-400,000-strong personnel, suffer morale problem due to poor welfare, inadequate training and lack of vital work tools. Consequently, the force has not been able to meet up with the challenges of securing lives and property, and many of its officers regularly get killed by better-armed robbers.

Observers have also blamed widespread corruption in the force's hierarchy for its woes. Armed robberies and other violent crimes have recently been on the increase in Africa's most-populous nation, necessitating the drafting of soldiers to assist the police in curbing the crimes in some parts of the country.


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