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The Challenges of Nigeria Police Reform, Civil Unrest and the Nation’s Democratic Advancement.

Senator Ehigie Uzamere

By Senator Ehigie Uzamere

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. May I start by thanking the promoters of POLA National Dialogue Series, especially His Excellency Otunba Gbenga Daniel for this opportunity to be a panelist on this programme on THE NATIONS EXPRESS

I will start by commenting on what Chief Kenny Martins said. He has deep knowledge of police affairs in our country and he has shown that much in his succinct presentation. However, his postulation on synergy, trust and confidence, cannot be achieved without reforms. A ragtag Police Force cannot elicit confidence or trust from citizens, same way a government that does not reform her Police Force to modern standards and comfort, cannot attract patriotism and professionalism from her Police Force.

Recent #ENDSARS protest by our youth, brought to the fore, issues of police brutality, bribery and unprofessional conduct. ENDSARS is a decentralised social movement and series of mass protests embarked on by our children, against police brutality in our country. Youth membership cut across social strata to include, the jobless and employed youths, as well as the children of the rich, middle class and the have-nots.

We cannot ENDSARS without understanding problems bedevilling Nigeria Police Force. Police reform that will work and give Nigeria pride of place must:
1. Do away with quota system in recruitment into the Force. There must be a uniform basic entry qualification across the nation. A minimum of OND while craftsmen must possess relevant Trade Test certificates for their competencies. This would enhance much needed expertise both within and outside the job. It will also reduce godfatherism and lobbying for unmerited positions.
2. Promotion in the Force should be based on merit and not “coursemateship” where people are promoted based on being members of the same course. Proper examination and assessment of promotable officers must be done. Promotion based solely on completion of Assessment Performance Evaluation form, is inadequate as this is a very subjective mode of appraisal.
3. Candidates must be properly profiled before enlistment into the Force.
4. There must be training and retraining of both officers and their trainers, to keep abreast of global best practice in policing.
5. Apart from enhanced pay structure of at least a basic monthly minimum of N250,000.00, there must be insurance policy package for officers and men as well as robust welfare package that will impact on the education and health care of their families. This will serve as a morale booster knowing that their families would be well taken care of, in the case of any untoward eventuality.
6. It is the responsibility of government to provide all official customised accoutrements for officers and men. It is not the officers’ business to personally buy their uniform, boots etc.
7. Command chain reform is inevitable. Zonal AIGs must be empowered with a working job schedule. With all due apologies, the structure as it is today, leaves these zonal AIGs, rather redundant. This reformed command structure, will decongest the IGP’s table and make for faster response to State CPs who take instructions direct from the IGP. A decentralised Command Chain, would also have to factor in the State Governors who are the chief security officers of States. I also advocate a reform were State CPs and a sizeable number of officers are from those states. Being indigenes, they would be more at home with the good and the bad of that particular society.
*8.* We need a critical reform of our criminal court system to eliminate delays. Delays in criminal justice court system frustrate and make compromise of police investigative process, possible.
*9.* Proliferation of government security outfits like Civil Defence Corps, have whittled down the functions and powers of the Police Force. Where these bodies are allowed to coexist, their functions should include security to VIPs, which hitherto is provided by the Police Force. The Police Force should be relieved of this role so that they can face the functions for which it was established. We don’t have enough police/citizen quota to allow for this ex-duty function. Moreover a poorly paid policeman will never be happy working in an affluent environment of VIPs.

Once again, I thank you for inviting me to participate in the Webiner programme

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