Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) involved in the protection and promotion of human rights and good governance in Nigeria have lauded the passage of the Police Act Amendment Bill by the Senate.
CISLAC alongside the other CSOs – Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN); CLEEN Foundation; Nigeria Policing Programme (NPP); Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC); CAULCRICK; State of the Union (SOTU); and Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC), stated this while addressing a press conference in Abuja.
Speaking on behalf of the organisations, Programme Officer, CISLAC, Okeke Anya, said: “We, the undersigned civil society groups, development partners and individual(s) that work at the intersection of police reform, the protection and promotion of human rights and good governance in Nigeria note with delight the passage of the Police Act Amendment Bill by the Senate just yesterday.
“This is a significant milestone in the quest to reform the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) in Nigeria. We commend the Senate for this development and urge the House of Representatives to do same without delay. We also commend the National Assembly for passing the Police Trust Fund Bill.”
Anya said the organisations, “Observe with concern the recent extra-judicial activities of some operatives of the NPF and other security agencies across Nigeria and we are assured that this Bill will go a long way to address some of the challenges in the policing framework and practice of the country.”
He said, “There has been a persistent outcry over some behaviour of some of our law enforcement operatives. The recent killings in Lagos and other parts of the country are very fresh in our memories and we commiserate with families and friends of the victims of these incidents
“We must say, however, that the killings are a stark reminder of where we are with efforts to reform policing in Nigeria.
Underlying the outcry are several factors that impact policing in Nigeria. As civil society and development partners, we are not only concerned with these police abuses or the quality of policing generally, we are just as concerned about service and operational conditions of police officers.
“Amidst the huge security challenges confronting Nigeria, the Nigeria Police Force is persistently understaffed, underfunded, underequipped, neglected and poorly motivated to deal with threats to public order and safety. Such conditions are a recipe for the quality of policing and attendant abuses that we currently experience today.”
The CSOs further said, “We welcome the initiatives by the Acting Inspector General of Police to address police abuses. The riot act he recently read to Area Commanders and DPOs, informing them that they will be responsible for the extra-legal activities of officers under their command.
“The initiative of the IGP to further restructure and reorganise SARS, taking into consideration SARS alarming statistics of human rights abuses, which sometimes results in fatalities and the recent re-introduction of discretionary use of stun guns for crime scene operations, are steps in the right direction. They are all consistent with calls for accountability and moderation within the Police.”
They called on the federal government to adhere to the principles of Rule of Law and fundamental freedom for all Nigerians, noting that every government has basic obligations to promote human rights, protect the rights of others and fulfill all international, regional and national human rights obligations.
The CSOs urged President Muhammed Buhari to assent to the Police Bills with the urgency that the subject matter demands.