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Need to pass Police reform bills

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NIGERIANS are already savouring the benefits of the retirement of the former Inspector General of the Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, whose three and half year tenure was characterised by unhealthy relationships between the Police and the National Assembly.

It was a great relief when President Muhammadu Buhari pleasantly shocked his critics by retiring Idris in January 2019 ahead of the general elections, bringing a new hand, Acting IGP Mohammed Adamu.

Apart from Lagos where armed thugs disrupted the elections and maliciously disenfranchised a section of the population, and the Kano supplementary election in which security agents failed to rein-in marauding hoodlums, the Police generally performed creditably during the 2019 general elections.

On Wednesday, April 3, 2019, IGP Adamu led the top brass of the Police to the office of the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to discuss ways of fast-tracking two major Bills towards evolving a better funded and more effective Police Force.

These include the “Bill to Reform and Re-enact the Police Act of 1943”. It is aimed at removing the colonial legacies of the Nigeria Police which place emphasis on protecting colonial/state interests at the expense of the citizenry.

The Bill will make the Police more community/people-oriented, professional, accountable and fine-tuned to respect the international standards in policing with emphasis on respect for human rights.

The second Bill is the Police Trust Fund which aims to meaningfully increase the funding of the Police by ensuring that the Federal, state, local governments and the private sector contribute to the funding of the Police. Police will be funded from the contributions of the three tiers of government from the first line charge of the Federation Account.

If these two Bills are passed into law, it is hoped that the problems that weaken the Force’s ability to perform its functions effectively, such as large-scale corruption, impunity, inhuman treatment of suspects, anti-people disposition, poor equipment, neglect of the welfare of officers and frequent killings of innocent civilians, would be tackled at the roots, while the Force will then be made to be fully accountable. The recruitment, training, equipment, promotion and professionalism will hopefully be boosted.

We call on the Eighth National Assembly under the leadership of Saraki to make good its pledge and pass these Bills as a parting gift to Nigerians.

We also call on the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to give them his speedy assent to enable the Police take off on a clean slate as the next government is inaugurated on May 29, 2019.

With a stronger Police Force, the military will be less involved in jobs meant for the Police in our democracy.

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