Senator, Dr. Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru representing Osun Central Constituency has reiterated that only sweeping reforms addressing wide improvements can benefit the Nigerian Police in it’s way to serve the nation and its citizens better.
The Senator who had earlier made the observation while while presenting a bill before the Senate on establishment of States’ Police said “there had been a deep seated and strong resistance to the idea of police reforms in the country”.
Against the background of wide ranging protests in major towns and cities calling for the abrogation of SARS, a criminal investigation department in the Police, Dr Basiru said unless reforms generated by several high levels committees spanning over 20 years are revisited and implemented, Nigeria Police shall remain largely ineffective.
Senator Ajibola said the indication to deep resistance is that “the more than 20 years of debate on policing and reforms have largely gone un- implemented”.
He said as a result the public perception of the Police had remained poor while it continued to be plagued with corruption, impunity, lack of accountability, gross incompetence and failure to maintain law and order.
Our present challenge, Dr Basiru said is to “reverse this perception and transform the Nigeria Police into a true public service organ capable of guaranteeing security of Nigerians”.
The Senator who noted that the recent enactment of the the Police Act 2020 might not meet the citizens expectation of an effective police institution that works said that only a wide range of reforms will be required to make the Police work in the interest of all.
” There is a need for a wholesale review and redefinition of the role, function and organisational structure of the Police” to demilitarise it and inject in it operation neutrality as well as autonomous organisational set up, functionality specialisation, institutional accountability and service orientation.
Senator Basiru who however noted that the enactment of The Police Act 2020 was an important step going forward however said the immediate challenge besetting the nation is to implement the Act in a manner that will emphasise service delivery, respect for human rights, transparency, gender equality and enhancement of community policing.
Some other reforms suggested by Dr Basiru are institutional reforms which will improve the conditions of service in the Poice as well as holistic review of the conditions of service of Police Officers as a means to discourage corruption.
Maintaining that infrastructural reforms be emphasised, Senator Basiru said there ought to be improved accommodation, improved and well equipped police stations, good facilities for detention and interrogation of persons and better furniture and fittings.
While suggesting that strong anti corruption measures be put in place, he said transparent reward and punishment mechanisms should be entrenched and put in place.
” There is a need for a strong system of public finance management that ensures that funds budgeted and released are transparently utilised for the purposes they are meant for”, he added.
Some other areas the Police reforms ought be focused according to Senator Basiru are complaints handling, introduction of a more expansive Police Curriculum and building of people-friendly training institutions and better data management systems.
Introduction of community policing that is “not a programme but a value system” whose goal is about cooperating with people to resolve issues of insecurity in specific domains should be considered, he said.
He also advocated for stoppage of discriminatory practices against women and that a national crime prevention strategy that will help to address crime and insurgency in broader perspectives be put in place.
Rather than wait and watch both the anti SARS demonstration spread and the police to continue to disintegrate, Dr Basiru recommended immediate actions capable of stemming the tide which included directing the IGP to audit manpower, vehicles and other resources of the Police Force with a view of attracting appropriate funding.
The IGP, he said should appoint a strong committee to receive complaints from the public on matters of corruption, delay in investigations, abuse of power and extra judicial killings and make recommendations to stemming such.
He clamoured for the restructuring and refocusing of the Ministry of Interior to developing a National Crime Prevention Strategy, monitor and review its implementation process adding that the secretariat of the Police Council be housed in the Ministry of Interior.
He advocated for tha appointment of an Executive Secretary for the Police Council and Police Service Commission respectively with secured tenures.
Apart from the quick wins, Dr Basiru listed a number of activities that could also in the short term be undertaken to assure Nigerians that desired reforms are on their way.
These are: Commenment of implementation of existing reports on reforms with emphasis on better conditions of service, Review of the mode of appointment of Chairperson and members of the Police Service Commission and Stoppage of the appointment of retired police chiefs as chairperson of Police Service Commission.
Others are enablement of National Dialogue on the desirability or not of having State Police and if agreed upon, the commencement of pilot projects in some States.
In the long term, Dr Basiru opined that the reforms could then involve physical infrastructure development programmes, recruitment of more graduates and professionals into the Police, bringing all other agencies performing policing roles under the control of the Nigeria Police Force in line with constitutional provision that there shall be “a Police Force” adding that this will result into harmonising police system and reducing costs of policing.