By Chimezie Godfrey
#TrackNigeria- The Chairman, House of Representative Committee on Police Affairs, Lawal Abubakar Garba, has said that the National Assembly is ready to collaborate with the police to create ensure reform that will meet contemporary challenges of Nigeria.
Garba gave this assurance Thursday in Abuja during a Police Service Reform Bill Sensitization workshop with the Theme: “The Future of Policing in Nigeria.”
The workshop was organized by the Nigerian Policing Programme (NPP) and the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) programme in collaboration with Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Police and Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and Network of Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPPRIN).
In his opening remark, Garba said, “We are witnessing a lot of challenges in this 21st century which we need to amend or repel some of these Police Acts to ensure that we attain the global best practices and professionalism in the police force.
“And the national assembly is ready to collaborate with the Nigerian police to create a police reform that will meet contemporary challenges of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, now and in the future, so as to effectively carry their mandate.
“I believe if the Police Trust Fund Bill is passed into law, the police will have a lot of money to buy modern equipments and some of their gadgets to effectively discharge their functions.”
Mr. Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary National Human Rights Commission, while delivering his goodwill message pointed out that the Police Reform Bill seeks to create a police system in Nigeria that will carry out its statutory mandate with fairness, justice, and equity in the maintenance of law and order for the socio-economic progress of Nigeria.
According to Ojukwu, “This Bill therefore provides for the frame for police service and ensures cooperation and partnership between the police and the Nigerian communities in maintaining peace and combating crime.
“The general and specific objectives of the Bill are worthy of note. These are to provide more efficient and effective police service that is based on the principle of accountability and transparency, protection of human rights and fundamental freedom.”
He also added that among the objective of the Bill is effective prevention of crimes without threatening the liberty of persons in Nigeria and ensuring that the police performs its functions in a manner sensitive to needs and wellbeing of the general public.
“For us at the National Human Rights commission, these objectives are laudable because the protection and promotion of the enjoyment of human rights for persons in Nigeria upholds the provisions of the fundamental laws of our country, that is, the 1999 Constitution as amended as well as the international human rights instruments signed by Nigeria.”
The Executive Director CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa who was represented by CISLACS’ Legal Adviser, Barr. Adesanya Oke said that there are fundamental issues to be addressed not only in the incompetence of the police but also the issue of their well fare, and modus operandis.
He pointed out that the issue of police reform has been long overdue and very unfortunate that the law guiding the police operations in Nigeria is obsolete.
“Most of us in this hall were not born when this law was put in place and up till now it is still the functional law. It means that the reform has indeed been well overdue and it is quit apt that the national assembly even though they have few days to go has taken it upon themselves to most especially the senate, to pass the Bill.
“We need to put our hands on deck to ensure that not only that we push for the passing of the police reforms which is before the house of representative now but also mount sufficient pressure on the president to assent to the Bill.
“A lot of things have been said about whatever the police are not doing well, but equally we also need to look at their welfare package.
“The other time the President said they want to increase their salary. It is not a question of increasing their salary, is a question of a holistic and a total well fare package of the police.
“This reform will open a new lease to the life of our Nigerian police force that we can all be proud of,” he said.