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Stakeholders Express Fear Over Planned Withdrawal Of Mobile Policemen From Banks
Recently, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, stirred the hornet’s nest, when he announced the decision of the police force to withdraw mobile policemen from the gates of the nation’s banks, at a meeting with the Committee of Heads of Banks in Abuja.
The IGP had stated that, though most banks would prefer the services of mobile policemen to any of the men in the other units of the police, he would rather deploy personnel from the Special Protection Unit (SPU), who he believes, boasts the same training with the mobile police and are well-equipped, if not better, than the mobile policemen attached to the banks today.
“Sometimes, what you want is mobile police because most banks are saying give us mobile police. But mobile police are essentially anti-riot. We are going to look at the possibility of using men from our Special Protection Unit, who have the same training with the mobile police, if not better,” the IGP was quoted to have said.
While acknowledging the enormity of the security challenge currently facing the country, especially the nation’s banks, the IGP still believes when fully operational, the men of the Special Protection Unit, would be more than capable when it comes to the issue of securing bank premises.
As reassuring as the IGP’s words on the issue are, not a few, especially stakeholders in the nation’s financial sector, have taken this with a pinch of salt.
Many believe the withdrawal of mobile policemen and their subsequent replacement with policemen from other units of the force could go a long way in eroding whatever confidence customers have while at the premises of banks.
“Though not without their excesses, the presence of the mobile policemen within the premises of these banks always gives one that sense of security. I think it does not really matter whether they are meant for riots or not as the IGP would want us believe, but the fact remains that they are getting the job done. They have a way of instilling fear in the minds of those criminally-minded people.
Besides, they look fitter and more combat-ready than their peers in other units of the force,” argued Tosin, a customer of one of the new generation banks, that recently acquired a bigger bank last year.
Tosin believes the withdrawal of these ‘kill and go’, as the nation’s mobile policemen are called, may be an open invitation to chaos.
A banker with one of the first generation banks, situated in the heart of the popular Oshodi market, believes the IGP’s move is not the way to go.
He argued that even if there was the need for the IGP to do that, it shouldn’t have been for public consumption.
“By making it public, the IGP is unwittingly compromising the security system put in place by these banks. It is not too good for the banks and those that have anything to do with the system.
“You need to see the tension those behind the counter go through every day, especially with the growing security challenges all around us. So, planning to withdraw mobile policemen at this time is quite untimely,” he noted.
But Biyi Adesuyi, a finance expert and a banker, who had spent more than two decades with one of the nation’s new generation banks before retiring to private practice, argued that the IGP should be commended, for at least, planning to replace these mobile policemen with men from another department of the force.
“It would have been an issue if the man had not made an alternative arrangement,” he stated.
He argued that though the IGP had been innovative in his approach to the issue of security since assuming office, he, however, attributed the decision to replace the mobile policemen at the gates of the nation’s banks to inter-departmental rivalry within the force.
“It’s an open secret that the mobile policemen attached to those banks are earning good money, and that has made them the envy of others, especially those in other units of the force.
“In my bank then, as the Manager, I was paying each mobile police man the sum of N2, 000 per day and they were eight in number, four in the day and four at night. By the time you put all these together, you will discover that such mobile policemen would be earning more than the force is paying them. And there is every possibility that the fee may have increased now.
“It was apparent that the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, actually identified with the mobile police and you would notice that he was always in their uniform while in office,” he argued.
According to him, the new move by the IGP might be a way of settling other units of the force, whom he believes had been deprived over the years.
But one thing is obvious, the announcement has elicited unease among stakeholders, and the IGP would need to do more than mere pronouncement to reassure stakeholders that their lives and properties would still remain secure in the banking premises, with or without the men from the mobile police unit.
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