Nigeria's civilian government has announced a package of benefits aimed at boosting morale and improving efficiency in the Police Force. The move follows a rise in violent crimes. Police Affairs Minister Stephen Akiga says as part of efforts to motivate the Police, officers injured - or the families of those killed in action, will now get between $4,000 and $30,000 . One Police officer noted "this is a big improvement from under $100 paid to dependants of victims in the past".
The Nigerian Police force is one of the most criticized public institutions in the country. It is often accused of corruption and inability to contain the rising crime wave.
But police authorities say they are not to blame. They accuse past military administrations of deliberately neglecting the department in a bid to perpetuate military rule. At a security retreat last week in the capital Abuja, Inspector General of Police, Musliu Smith, listed some of the problems facing the organization. They include manpower shortage, insufficient funding and poor training.
Security experts say Police inability to combat crime is due to a lack of modern equipment for proper policing. The result is that the members of the force themselves are exposed to attacks by the criminals.
Government officials say the problem is receiving urgent attention. Police personnel are now paid better salaries which, they hope with time will reduce corruption. Also, some 40,000 new recruits are expected to swell their number each year.
The police top brass say this is designed to substantially boost the Police workforce from its current level. Observers say that for a country of over 100 million people, the current manpower of under 200,000 cannot effectively maintain law and order.