Nigerian Police Reforms Bill: Need for Speedy Passage
By Saad Y. Shuaib
With the myriad of challenges facing the Nigerian security system, a national civil society organization (CISLAC) recently held a high powered meeting at Ilorin to discuss the way forward especially towards equipping the Nigerian police through the Police reforms bills.
I must state that while lots of things were discussed at the meeting, I could not but look back at the plight of the average Nigerian Policeman, imagine a Police force where hazard allowance is 10 naira in this current day. Currently the strength of the Nigerian Police Force stands at 371,800 (according to Wikipedia) for a country that has an estimated 174.2million population.
According to a report by Budgit , the strength of the Police is one Inspector General, Seven Deputy inspector General of Police (DIG) , 29 Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), 111 Commissioners of Police (CP), 236 deputy commissioner of Police (DCP) ,577 Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) , 980 Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) , 2,690 Superintendent of Police (SP) , 4,522 Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), 3044 Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) 1 and 10, 287 ASP 11. For the rank and file , Inspectors number 49,026, Sergeant 62,681, Corporal 128,656 and constable with 19,043.
This goes a long way to show us that even in terms of strength relating to number, we need more active policemen as a country. A report in 2017 based on a statement made by the inspector General of police said Nigeria needs 31000 New police officers every year for the next five years (as at 2017) . Nigeria operates at a rate of one police officer to 600 Nigerians, which is alarmingly low. With this new legislative bill attempting to reform our police, it remains very pivotal for Nigerians to reflect on the type of police force requires for addressing myraids of security challenges facing the country in the 21st century.
The level of public perception of Nigerian Police personnel is low as average Nigerian believes the Police are not adequately professional in their dealings with the public. Perhaps, this is due to low motivation evident in salaries for the police personnel. Hopefully, the news of upward review of police salaries will motivate the personnel to give their best to protect the citizenry. In 2017 a rating indices ranked Nigerian Police as the worst in the world, while we may be quick to discard such ranking , we must as a nation work towards a repeat of such ranking and rating .
The report used to reach a ranking conclusion reads that there are 219 police officers for every 100,000 Nigerians well below the index median of 300 and the sub-Saharan region average of 268. In any case, the civil society groups at CISLAC’s meeting in Ilorin agreed that a lot need be put in place for the police working professionally. The extant laws on policing in Nigeria are outdated and rooted in draconian colonial ordinances.
The need to have a less corrupt policing system in Nigeria is highlighted by the bill as noted under section 24 of the Police reforms bill. The section 28 provides that no one should be arrested without been charged to court, trying to curb the generational issue of illegal detention. I must also agree with the stakeholders that the Nigerian government is not supporting the Police adequately enough apparent in deplorable state of various colleges of Nigerian Police and their barracks Nationwide which leaves one wondering why their state of living is that way when they live everyday thinking of how to keep Nigeria safe and together. Thus, the Ilorin civil society deliberation that I happened to be a part of also highlighted the fact that if care is not taken the Police reforms Bill may be structured to favor some persons.
One of the bane of the country is the fact that many times, bills and laws start with good intention but on the longer run, this intention becomes lost due to selfish intention to profit from before passage of such bills, the Police reforms Bill should not suffer such fate made rather it requires speedy passage by the national assembly. The benefits of police reforms bill is to ensure more effectiveness and better policing for the country in the 21st century. This should be at the front burner of all our efforts. It was very painful when I read that Nigerian Police was ranked among the worst in the world but the reality is beyond talking; how well are we ready to improve the country’s security apparatus?
The level of equipment carried around by the men of the Nigerian Police is another worry, lack of training is another issue and the low standard for recruitment is another issue. What do you say of the many pot-bellied Police officials, officials who cannot run and those who sleep on duty, total reforms need be put in place. I commend the efforts of the CISLAC and other CSOs on the subject matter.
I also encourage all Nigerians to support the move to ensure a better police system in Nigeria. The Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission needs to work hard towards improving the current condition of policing and been a Police personnel in Nigeria. We must put pressure that the legislation must not be same as the one we see running for over 75years. The Nigerian government must also show willingness and readiness to improve upon the Police structure and support the system totally. The core function of governance is protection of life and property, what happens when we lack a good security system?
Saad Y. Shuaib is a corps member serving in Ilorin