The CLEEN Foundation (formerly known as Centre for Law Enforcement Education) is non-governmental organization established in January 1998 with the mission of promoting public safety, security and accessible justice through empirical research, legislative advocacy, demonstration programmes and publications, in partnership with government, civil society and the private sector.
- This document presents the position of the CLEEN Foundation on the Police Bill. Our suggestions draw extensively from experience working on policing and public safety issues in the last 20 years and key recommendations from the 2012 CSO Panel report on police reform chaired by the CLEEN Foundation. We will make available to the Committee, the report and recommendations of the CSO Panel on Police Reform in Nigeria.
- Concerns about the Nigeria Police Force and the need for reforms are at an all-time high in Nigeria. Never has the country witnessed such active national discussion with so much energy and passion from the citizens even to the Police institution itself.
- A careful look at these discussions emanate strongly from the need for a policing institution that should respond effectively to the myriad public safety and security challenges in the 21st century Nigeria but more importantly for a policing system situated in sound democratic principles and respect for the rule of law.
- CLEEN Foundation therefore commends the Senate Committee on Police Affairs and the National Assembly for actively taking this process forward culminating into a public hearing today. We join our voices with other civil society partners and Nigerians to appreciate your efforts and earnestly hope that this Bill will be given all necessary legislative attention towards its speedy passage before the end of the eighth Assembly.
- The Bill when passed, will position the Police for greater efficiency and effectiveness (including operational effectiveness), promote accountability, transparency, respect the rule of law and the fundamental human rights of citizens (a key concern for citizens) and will enable the Police to work better in partnership with the communities and other key stakeholders.
- Issues and recommendations on the Police Bill
The following section delineates our suggestions for inclusion in the Bill and a revision of certain areas for a more comprehensive Bill that speaks to better accountability, transparency, fairness and responsive policing. Eight sections are highlighted below with suggested recommendations:
- As part of the preliminaries, first, there needs to be a re-framing of the core mission statement(s) for the Nigeria Police. Thus, we recommend the mission statement to read as ‘to ensure the security and protection of lives and property, prevention of crime and the protection of fundamental human rights in partnership with the community’
Section 1 on Guiding Principles should include in addition:
- The promotion of the rule of law (upholding the supremacy of the law over all persons including the Police and in view of the enormous power and influence they wield).
- The promotion of gender equality and justice: In view of the continuous state of discrimination policies and practices within the Nigeria Police Force against female police officers and the laws guiding potential female recruits into the institution. (Although this speaks to the present fifth mission statement of the NPF, practicalities speak otherwise)
- Encourage and strengthen specialization in the Police through the recruitment and retention of core experts in diverse fields of policing to ensure services consistently respond to the needs of the community. This will actively address the syndrome of general duty policing as a one-size fits all approach.
Section 2: Objectives
- Under the specific objectives, an additional objective should be added to speak to the principle of gender equality and justice highlighted in Section 1 above. This should read as “To mainstream gender in the operations, policies and practices of the Nigeria Police at all levels.
Section 4 (f): General duties of the Police
- Our concerns on the duties of the Police as listed in the bill makes the job of policing cumbersome in view of limited resources. This section should read as ‘To work with key agencies towards fostering inter-agency collaboration, strengthen mandate delivery and the harmonization of functions in the response to humanitarian challenges and free movement of persons.
- Section 5 (1) Establishment of the Nigerian Police Council
The absence of a timeframe for meeting poses a great challenge to effectiveness of the Council. Thus, we propose an addition to the Bill under section 5 as (d) that the Council should meet on a quarterly basis to deliberate on the issues noted in (a-c)
- Section 12 (3) Powers, Duties and Functions of the Commissioner of Police
The potential for political interference and lack of uniformity is inherent in allowing the Commissioner of Police to take directives from the State governors to set up community policing foras in the state. Rather, we propose that this should read ‘A state commissioner of police shall subject to the directives of the Inspector General of Police (See 12-2) and the state’s security council establish community policing foras in the state.
Again, this discussion should be viewed from the need to strengthen the current state’s Security Council and to give wide powers to the Governor who chairs such meetings.
- Section 19 Training and Retraining of Police officers
In addition to the relevant courses on law enforcement, there is need for specialized courses on democratic policing, election policing, community policing, service-oriented policing, and gender-responsive policing. The study of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act should be made a mandatory course at the Police Training Institutions.
- Section 20 (a-c) Prosecutorial Powers of the Police Officer
On the conduct of the prosecution by police officers, it should be expressly stated that the conduct of prosecutions should be carried out by police officers who are lawyers as provided for in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act-Section 106. It is necessary to establish complimentarity between the Police Bill and the ACJ Act.
- Section 63 (1) Functions of the Community Policing Boards
Include as one of the duties to serve as a platform for intelligence gathering for the prevention of crimes and the development of community initiatives to nip potential criminalities.
Provisions in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 that fundamentally changes the role and current practices of the police in the criminal justice system should be taken on board by the Bill. Thus, the Bill should be anchored on the principles of the Act with the Police drawing their prosecutorial powers from the Act.
- We reinforce the position in the Bill on the mandate of the Police Service Commission to recruit persons into the Police (Except the IGP), investigate and discipline police officers for enhanced Police accountability. The recruitment of persons (Except the IGP) into the Nigeria Police should be undertaken by the Police Service Commission in collaboration with the Police. Similarly, the Bill should set strict penalties for erring police office
- The abolishment of all discriminatory policies and practices affecting female police officers including unmarried, married and pregnant ones and other extant rules affecting the Police as an equal opportunity employer
- We adopt and align ourselves with the positions of other presenters from civil society on the need for security of tenure of 5 years for the Inspector General of Police and Standardization of the appointment and removal of the IGP based on recommendation from the Police Council and the Senate.
- Penalties for offences should be stiffer to deter any criminal tendencies in the police in particular reference to Section 48-54. For instance, in section 52 (2), the option of fine of ten thousand naira (N10,000) is too small, we recommend a fine of fifty thousand naira (N50,000). In Section 53 (b), the penalty of N50,000 should be raised to two hundred naira (N200,000) or for a term of three (3) years or both. Section 54 1(b) & (2) we recommend a two (2) year penalty as being more appropriate for an offence of this nature than just six 6 months
Mr Chairman, the need to reform the Nigeria Police cannot be overestimated. Nigerians desire a police insitution that is accountable, responsive to security concerns while adhering to the principles of fairness and rule of law in the discharge of duties mandated by the 1999 Constitution and other extant laws.
- We are confident that this bill will be passed into law by both the Senate and House of Representatives and assented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria before the end of the current legislative year.
- Thank you for listening.
The CLEEN Foundation