The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, has said that henceforth, all Policemen will undergo snap urine tests to ascertain signs of drug abuse before they could be issued firearms.
Arase disclosed this at the launch of drug testing kits and campaign against sudden death of police officers in Abuja yesterday.
The programme was organised by the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the Hypertension and Diabetes Awareness Foundation.
He said that apart from denying officers who failed the test access to firearms, the force would wean them from drugs or other psychological problems.
Arase noted that the killing of Nigerians from misapplication of firearms by policemen had made the public to cast aspersions on the police.
“After an in-depth study, my team and I have found out that some of these fatal cases could be due to mishandling of firearms by police officers who are psychologically unfit to handle firearms at that time. We have therefore decided that the medical assessment of persons we recruit into the Police Force will include a psychological assessment,” he said.
He said that some of these psychological problems could also have resulted from drug abuse by few of the officers.
Arase said that the police had also initiated a policing strategy that would witness the transition of the police from relying on firearms to manage social disorders.
“Orders have been placed for this weaponry and adequate training framework is being put in place. My long term vision is to effectively address issues that engender misuse of firearms and give true meaning to our mandate of safeguarding the lives of our citizens,” he said.
He said that the Force had also decided to address the issue of frequent sudden death of police officers from preventable or avoidable health challenges.
Arase said that medical personnel had attributed such deaths to chronic non-communicable diseases like diabetes mellitus and hypertension.
He said that following this discovery, the medical department had been directed to screen all officers for the diseases.
“I encourage all men to come forward for health screening. Our medical section is well positioned to manage any health problems our officers and men may have,” he said.
Earlier, the Force Medical Officer, AIG Adenike Abuwa, said that the initiative was aimed at further protecting the lives of Nigerians from accidental discharge by police officers.
Abuwa said that a three-day capacity building workshop for medical officers would hold at all police health facilities nationwide to improve mental care delivery services in the police.
She said that the sudden death programme was part of the police collective response to the growing prevalence of sudden death in the police community and Nigeria at large.
In line with global best practices, this programme has been organised to educate police officers on healthy lifestyle and regular medical checkup. This initiative will ensure prompt identification and management of conditions that lead to non-communicable diseases among the police community,” she said.
She said also that the programme would be held at zonal and state commands to ensure that no police personnel were left out.