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Matilda Orhewere: Who Killed ‘The Crime Fighters?’
In the 90s regular briefings of members of the general public on the activities, challenges and accomplishments of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) vide a television programme that was aired on domestic television stations. The ‘crime fighters’ was a production of the media and public affairs division and men and women of the NPF.
The ‘crime fighters’ was made popular by the fact that not much was hidden from member of the public about successfully resolved investigations. Photographs of suspects as well as their true identities were made public. Members of the public were allowed and encouraged to phone-in and the programmed allowed room for members of the public to interact with the police and people cooperated with the police.
The programme was moderated by well-trained, qualified and experienced police officers who were skilled at public relations and information management.
The coordinators of the programme will attest to the fact that they received a lot of useful information that helped the police through the phone lines that were thrown open to the public. It was also a platform to showcase the broadcasting, news gathering and interviewing skills of the police men and women who participated in delivering the program to the public.
The programme also presented the opportunity for members of the public to appreciate the challenges that men and women of the NPF faced in the course of carrying out their daily assignments. It gave the NPF a human face and it earned men and women of the NPF the trust, respect and admiration of members of the public.
Security tips were shared on the programme and a lot of public awareness information was transmitted in the course of the programme.
That is one programme that benefitted viewers as well as those producing it. It was a programme that should have greatly benefitted the NPF but the for reasons I am not sure of, the programme was laid to rest.
There is no doubt that the production of the programme would have cost the NPF a fortune to deliver to members of the public and there may have been the likelihood that the NPF was not allowed to take sponsors’ adverts to avoid jeopardizing the programme. Members of the public being tax payers deserved such public awareness platform by the NPF, the budgetary allocation of NPF could easily have accommodated the production and transmission of the ‘crime fighters’ to members of the public.
The programme encouraged transparency which is one factor that is to a large extent hampering security, progress and modernization in Nigeria.
It is a public awareness service that may not have been directly beneficial to the police but it would have raised the standard of police investigations and interactions with the public especially as international observers and human rights organizations would have contributed toward the success of the programme.
Modern societies regularly air police programmes that show detailed police effort sometimes with or without the help of members of the public in resolving the puzzles posed by some very critical investigations.
Where some critics may take an opposing stand especially as ‘crime fighters’ did not go near high profile financial crimes cases which many Nigerians are unhappy about, taking police cases one little bit at a time would help in exposing criminals to the public. And quite frankly, many criminals do not like their crimes to be broadcast or published as we see them covering their faces from cameras of media men and women.
Such programmes take aware the element of darkness in the activities of the police and put the police within the easy reach of members of the public in calling for help or contributing towards successful completion of investigations. One cannot expect instant perfection in the broadcast or quality of delivery but regular and consistent practice will help in improving the standard of the programme.
The Nigerian society will do well with such a programme on local television.
GOD bless Nigeria.