NALT international – a Social Justice focused Non-for-profit making organisation of over 1,000 Nigeria graduates across the globe identifies with the objectives and goals of the ongoing nationwide non-violent protests aimed at addressing the excesses of the now proscribed Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force.
With the current outcry led from the front by the youths of the country, NALT is calling for the complete overhaul of the very foundational structure of the Nigerian Police Force informed by genuine commitment and political will. We commiserate with all the innocent victims of alleged SARS brutality and the families of those who have suffered fatalities in the hands of this infamous police department.
NALT International like many Nigerians acknowledges that the Nigerian Police Force is faced with numerous challenges such as opaque recruitment processes, inadequate training, poor remunerations, poor working conditions and benefits, and a non-existent development incentive. In this regard, analysts have opined that this frustration inform the attitude of the police towards the citizenry and the output of policing in the country.
Nevertheless, there is no justification whatsoever why the Nigerian police is so loathed by the same citizenry it has sworn to serve-and-to-protect. Presently the angst of Nigerians, sometimes justifiably so, against their own very police service men and women is so overwhelming that a monumental change needs to come in and do so fast.
We therefore call for a wholistic reform that strengthens/sustains police – citizens relations and revamps community confidence in the police as follows:
- Legislation – The present Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which governs the establishment of the Nigerian Police Force is no longer fit-for-purpose. The Nigerian Police require an enforceable legislation which will be in line with international human rights laws, and explicitly specify its functions and powers.
- Policies – that would prioritise on how to deploy the capacity of the Nigerian police nationwide. Presently, the Nigerian Police Force consists about 400,000 staff strength with plans to increase the size. There are 36 State commands grouped into 12 zones with 7 administrative organs and currently headed by an Inspector General, Mr Adamu Muhammed. For a nation of over 200million people, it is grossly inadequate especially given the lack of modern tools and technology deployed in policing. In terms of rapid deployment of forces,
the size and structure of the command cannot compare favourably with countries with similar population?
- Effective & adequate basic police training – which would be acceptable as fit for purpose. There should also be regular training courses which aim to update the knowledge and skill set of its force. These should have transparent assessments with incentives of promotions.
- Equipment & facilities – that are sufficient for the stated functions of the Nigerian Police. The entire Nigerian Police Force must not only be kitted with adequate protective equipment from a reputable supplier, they should also be stationed in modern office complexes complete with 21st century facilities like handheld radios and sound vehicles.
- Adequate means of supervision & monitoring – that would be seen as a supporting tool for Officers in carrying out their professional duties. The members cannot be seen as law unto themselves. They are paid with taxpayers’ money so they should be accountable to proper supervision.
- REGULATION is key – The Nigerian Police Commission (NPC) must do more in ensuring that the public have a proper, transparent and the opportunity to air their complaints. It should also create a system and structure of a fair and effective procedures on specifically how to deal with police misconduct, including those involved in criminal and civil offences. The body must be empowered for adequate investigative capacity and put in place workable procedures for punishment of its own as well as an appeal system for those who feels unfairly treated and want to seek redress.
- A clear channel of effective reporting procedures – Many times, we are fed with slogans such as: Police is your Friend; bail is free; police have no rights to search your phone; and so on and so forth but in reality it is rarely the case. When some members of the police decide to contravene their own acts and go ahead to violate the citizens, there has to be a hitch-free channel for complaints to be reported and crime references obtained and recorded for proper auditing.
- Verifiable and reliable statistics of police performance – In most countries we often here that violent crime is either up or down depending on the stats. The only way to gauge the performance of our police is to give the public a reliable and verifiable statistics of how our police forces are performing. This will enable citizens to empathise with the challenges of the Nigerian police, improve their integrity and confidence amongst the public as well ask questions of their legislators as per how they are funding the police for better performance targets.
- Transparent and equitable recruitment process – The Police must ensure it attracts the right calibration of candidates who genuinely want to make a difference. Successful cadets and recruits should be shortlisted and employed based on merit and not on mediocrity. There has to be an established strictest minimum requirement of educational qualifications and competencies which should serve as a benchmark for any Nigerian who want to join the NPF. The force should not be seen as a dumping ground for castoffs and school dropouts who would go on to terrorise innocent citizens simply because they have been assigned some guns.
- Living Wage – The job of a policeman and woman is already tough as it is and should not be made more challenging by being employed on poverty level wages. The present pay structure of the rank-and-file of the Nigerian Police does not enable its members to afford the average consumer retail price index of a Nigerian. Any wonder many of them choose to scavenge elsewhere for extra income and ultimately, it is the innocent citizens that bear the brunt of these frustrations. The members of the Nigerian Police deserve to be paid a living wage that would enable them to afford decent housing, put staple food on the table and cater for their immediate families. Anything less is asking for compromise from those we see as the first line of defence and often the last line.
In conclusion, it might seem that these recommendations for reforms appear a tall order but looking at them objectively they are not. These are the least the members of the police force and the long- suffering Nigerians deserve. If we are truly to believe that we live in a country where the police is our friend indeed, then drastic measures to curb the excesses of the Nigerian police and position it in an effective functional place that fits in the 21st century needs to be implemented. We cannot be doing the same thing and expect a different result.
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria! Long Live NALT Club International!!
Okenna NNAMCHI [Teflon] – PRO, NALT Club International
Nwaeze, OKEOMA – PRO, NALT Nigeria.