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By Fortune Eromosele

The Nigeria Police Act 2020, coming into force in September 16 2020, was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari and consequently repealed the Police Act of 2004.

The Police Act 2020, has enshrined in it, provisions for an effective police service that is based on the principles of accountability and transparency, protection of human rights, and partnership with other security agencies as well as community policing.

However, experts drawn from the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, National Assembly Business Environment RoundTable, NASSBER, and CLEEN Foundation, have proffered solutions on the implementation of the Police Act 2020.

They tabled their opinions in a colloquium on “Open Forum for Public Safety: Towards Implementation of the Police Act, 2020,” organised by NESG/NASSBER in collaboration with CLEEN Foundation in Abuja.
Addressing newsmen, Hon. Commissioner, Human Rights, Police Service Commission, Barrister Rommy Mom, said the federal government needs to go beyond passing bills but implementing policies and Acts.

He urged the federal government to take its eyes away from bandits, kidnappers, terrorists and focus on funding and building the Nigerian Police Force.

His words, “Though we have a new police Act, which is commendable after all the years of efforts in getting it passed. The important thing is not the passage of the law but the most important is the implementation of the law. If you look at all the issues the Police Act 2020 tries to address, they are still very much with us, because the law is not being
implemented.

“The law principally looked at making the police accountable to communities, were communities take charge of policing, but as we speak today, communities are yet to take over policing in their own environs. That mitigates the core mandate of the Police Act, which harps on community policing.

“What we have today is a police that is still reactive. I do believe and the PSC do believes that if we comply strictly with the Police Act, then the issues of unprofessionalism will be greatly reduced. If you comply with the Act, it won’t be the Police force of the Inspector General, it’s going to be a police force of Nigerians because Nigerians will take ownership of policing. We do believe that the Police Act 2020 should be activated and implemented.

“If you look at all the monies Nigeria has paid bandits, in terms of ransom, the money if poured into the police, we would not have the police of today. The main problem is resourcing, when you try to have a police that’s analogue and not digital then you are going to have these problems.

“When you are going to have a Police Service Commission for example, that is made to be ineffective. When you look at the PSC it comprises of citizens, who are supposed to be the ones appointing state police commissioners and recruiting. But today we have a police that’s recruiting by itself, and the masses don’t have much input into it. The people should take charge of it, so that the police is left with issues of security.”

Funding

On funding, Mom said approval does not facilitate funding but that the release of funds would help the police. This is even as he noted that the Police Trust Fund needs to be re-enacted.

He said, “Approval for funding doesn’t necessarily translate to release, has money been released for this? You need to pour in a lot of money into policing, from intelligence gathering to training communities on early warning and response mechanism. This is what the Police Act talks about. Unfortunately we are not bringing communities into it.

“Let’s look at technology for example, police still beat people into getting confessions, instead of using data, IT skills in trying to know exactly what happened. People can come here for example and rob, leaving fingerprints, evidences but there’s no forensics in identifying who. All these things are important, and it just takes money for us to do these things correct.

“When I say us, I’m talking about government and private sector, because security is everybody’s business, the huge amount of money that companies make why don’t we put it back into ensuring that we have a police force that is well equipped. The Police Trust Fund for example, how is it being used? These things are important.

“I will say this again, the money that we have paid the bandits, kidnappers over the last three years, pour that money into policing, we would have an effective police that you and I can sleep well at night and not be afraid, where you and I can travel by road and not be afraid.

“The Police Trust Fund is still on paper, it needs to begin to work, it needs to begin to comply with procurement processes. The processes are myriad but principally it’s about having a monitoring mechanism, which is where the PSC comes in, what are we doing in giving effective monitoring to the police. That is the oversight of the police and except we make that oversight body strong, we cannot make the police strong enough.

“Bad behaviour strives because it goes unpunished and along as bad behaviour within the police is not adequately addressed then there is a problem. The IG has done his best by taking that at the lower level but what about the senior police officers.

“The lack of putting in this money in this kind of issues is what is leading to us having police men that are unprofessional and ineffective.”

Implementation of Police Act 2020 will reduce crime — NESG

In his remarks, CEO, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola, said the dedication to the implementation of the Police Act 2020 would drastically reduce crime and unprofessionalism among the police.

Jaiyeola, who was ably represented by Board Member, NESG, Nnanna Ude, said, “To effectively deal with crime trends will require new capabilities and solutions and greater collaboration among law enforcement agencies to both combat threats and ensure public safety. The Police Act 2020 is one such instrument.

“By targeting the development and improvement of key competencies that are the hallmarks of smarter public safety management, the Police can more effectively improve public safety, and help build more prosperous communities through the implementation of the Act.

“It must be reiterated that security is capital intensive and the responsibility of a well-policed country can hardly be shouldered by the government alone. All stakeholders – private individuals, corporate bodies, NGOs, mass media, religious organizations, etc., must contribute in one form or the other to the policing of our Country. It is through collective efforts in policing, that we can attain maximum security, peace and tranquillity which are essential pre-conditions for the growth and development of any society.

“This Open Forum has therefore been organized with the hopes to generate implementation options for the Police Act 2020 that would assist the government and the police in enhancing citizens’ safety and security in Nigeria and also in evolving a more accountable and service-oriented police service.”

We need to engage stakeholders — CLEEN Foundation

On his part, Mr. Gad Peter, Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, said there is the need to engage key stakeholders to agree on the way forward in implementing the Act.

Peter, represented by Programme Manager, CLEEN Foundation, Chigozirim Okoro, said, “No doubt, our security system is overwhelmed by an ever increasing volume of incidences occasioned by security challenges necessitating in the repealing of the Police Act Cap. P19 Laws of the Federation, 2004 which thus gave room for the new Police Act 2020 and approved by President Mohammadu Buhari,GCFR.

“The focal point of today’s forum is targeted at the implementation of the Act, aimed at providing an effective Police Force driven by the principles of professionalism, accountability and transparency in its operations and the management of its resources.

“To chart an action plan for implementation of this new Police Act 2020, it is expected that there should be an engagement of key stakeholders to brainstorm to agree on the way forward.”

We need to take policing to the grassroots — NASSBER

Meanwhile, NASSBER Thematic Lead on Institutions, Mr. Ezenwa Anumnu, emphasised on the need for policing to be taken to the grassroots.

“We need to take policing down to the grassroots. The Police Act makes provision for policing up to the divisional and local government area. We want to make sure that such opportunities are harnessed and policing in Nigeria is effective and meets the demands of policing in a democratic setting,” he said.

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