- Call for composition of board members
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Stakeholders have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the Police Trust Fund Act, which provides a legal framework for the management and control of a special intervention fund for the training of personnel, procurement of operational equipment and provision of infrastructure as well as maintenance of police stations nationwide.
THISDAY investigation showed that six months after the National Assembly passed the Police Trust Fund Bill into law and the subsequent presidential assent in July, the fund is yet to take off, due to the non-appointment of the board members.
Having assented to the bill, the president is expected to inaugurate the board of the fund which has not taken place.
The Police Trust Fund Act stipulates that the board shall have an executive secretary, who shall be the chief accounting officer and oversee the administration of the fund, and an implementation committee consisting of a minister as chairman and such other members not exceeding six in number with proven integrity appointed by the board of trustees.
The Board of Trustees shall consist of a retired Inspector-General of Police, the Inspector-General of Police or his representative as ex-officio member, representatives of ministries of Police Affairs, Justice and Finance, civil society group and the organised private sector.
The PTF would be funded from a levy of 0.005 per cent of the net profit of companies operating in Nigeria, 0.5 per cent of the total revenue from the Federation Account, any take-off grant and special intervention fund as may be provided by the federal, state and local governments and such money as may be appropriated to meet the objective of the Act by the National Assembly.
Other funding sources include aids, grants and assistance from international, bilateral and multilateral agencies, non-governmental organisations and the private sector in addition to grants, donations and investments made by the fund.
Speaking on the delay in the take-off of the PTF, a former Commissioner for Police in Lagos State, Mr. Abubakar Tsav, told THISDAY that the federal government should implement the fund at once in order to ensure the full functionality of the police.
He said: “Honestly, I would not know why the delay. But since the Act has been signed into law, they should implement it at once. It should take off immediately while Buhari is in power so that he will direct them appropriately.
“But if they allow it to stay for a very long time it will not serve the purpose for which it was set up. And it depends on the type of people he appoints. If he appoints the right people, it will take shape but if they do not, then that is when there will be challenges.”
A former Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. Parry Osayande, attributed the challenges facing the police to the proliferation of other similar organisations thus requiring extra measures to fund the police.
“They don’t know what they are doing. When they are talking about police, there is no reason why there should be proliferation of security agencies. Of all the former British colonies, only Nigerian Police have over four police organisations,” he said in an interview with THISDAY, adding: “Why should they do that? Instead of strengthening one, they created EFCC, Road Safety etc. They don’t know what they are doing.”
Executive Director, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, Mr. Okechukwu Nwangwuma, said the implementation had become imperative in view of the security challenges facing the country.
He said: “It is worrisome that despite the urgency of the situation that warranted the idea of a Police Trust Fund and after several months of signing it into law, the president is yet to appoint members of the board.
“Under the law, the president is mandated to nominate members of the board. I think it is time that the president in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the police, the IG of police, the chairman of the Police Service Commission should nominate credible persons and the process of nomination should be devoid of politics because if this trust fund is politicised like the one before it then the purpose will be defeated.”
Nwangwuma said the urgency of the matter demanded that the fund should become operational and all the sources of funding, including federal government, state government, donor groups, should begin to make contributions so that alternative sources of funding could be provided for the police.
“Any further delay would suggest that government is not serious about tackling insecurity and equipping the police to be in a position to efficiently handle their mandate under the law,” he said.
Police spokesman and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mr. Frank Mba, confirmed that the fund is yet to go into full operation because the requisite appointments have not been made.
He told THISDAY: “For now, the Police Trust Fund has come into being statutorily but it is yet to go into full operation because the requisite appointments have not been made. Incidentally, it is not within the powers of the IG or the powers of the Nigerian Police Force to make these appointments so we are hoping that the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces will make these appointments very soon.
“As soon as these appointments are made, the board members of the trust fund are constituted, the implementation committees would be in place and the trust fund is properly set up administratively then it will begin to operate but it is outside our control to make these appointments.”
On the likely impact of the fund on the police, he said: “From the word go, this trust fund is actually designed to advance the interest of the police and by extension the security and safety interest of the nation. When you have an effective and efficient police force, a motivated and well-equipped police force, you bequeath automatically a secured public space, a better placed environment, a more secured atmosphere and these are all the things we are expecting the coming into being of the trust fund to help us in achieving.”
Mba said the interest of the police was fully captured in the Act.
He explained: “By the provision of the Act also, the Inspector General of the Police is a member of the board. He will be on the board as ex-officio member and we also have in that board a retired Inspector General of Police, a representative of Ministry of Police Affairs, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Finance.
“There are also representatives of civil society organisations, organised private sector and a secretary who will serve as accounting officer. The membership is designed in such a way that it represents different interests.”
On the funding expectations of the police, he said the fund would see to the “provision of equipment for the police, training programmes and education materials for the police training colleges.”
Mba said the expected equipment would cover ICT, infrastructure, vehicles, arms and ammunition, modern crime fighting gadgets notably IT-driven ones.
He said the fund was expected to address renovations in police training schools, provision of decent accommodation for police officers, among others.
“I want to believe very strongly that this fund will help in re-writing the operational and welfare history of the Nigerian Police Force. It is an intervention fund designed to address those critical areas where the police have suffered neglect in the past,” he said.