House, NBA, CSOs collaborate on new legislation for police reform
By Deji Elumoye and Adedayo Akinwale
The recent extra judicial killings across the country by operatives of the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) received the attention of the Senate yrsterday as it asked the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu, to effect the immediate arrest and prosecution of all SARS personnel involved in the killing of innocent Nigerians.
The Senate also resolved to probe all human rights abuses by the various security agencies in the country.
Also following the alarming spate of police brutality, extrajudicial killings and misconduct, the House of Representatives has resolved to work with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), and civil society organisations (CSOs) to draft new legislation within 30 days as part of efforts to reform the police.
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, while commenting on the recent activities and extrajudicial killings by men of the SARS, called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of those involved.
According to him, any security personnel involved in the killing of innocent Nigerians must be made to face the full weight of the law.
“I think that this is a situation that should be properly investigated. The recent incident should not be swept under the carpet.
“Those involved in the recent incident should be arrested and prosecuted. There are good people in all the security agencies just as there are bad people.
“Scrapping of agencies might not be the right thing to do. Rule of law should be the guiding principle. If anyone does the wrong thing, they must be prepared to face the consequences.
“Like some of us indicated, there are good elements in SARS, and they have been doing a wonderful job. “If you scrap SARS for example, you lose the chance of getting those that are doing well to continue to do so.
“Anybody in SARS or any security agency that commits excesses should be prosecuted. The law should take its full course. It is not enough to dismiss them from service, what does the law say if he kills someone? This is not acceptable. In fact, it makes Nigeria like some of our colleagues have said, a laughing stock.
“We have the jurisdiction and constitutional mandate to review the laws governing the operations or establishment of these agencies,” Lawan said.
Lawan made these submissions against the backdrop of a motion entitled “need to check the culture of arbitrariness and brutality of Security Operatives to Nigerians”, moved via point of Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules by Chairman of Senate committee on Communications, Senator Oluremi Tinubu.
Meanwhile, following the alarming spate of police brutality, extrajudicial killings and misconduct, the House of Representatives has resolved to work with the NBA, and CSOs to draft new legislation within 30 days as part of efforts to reform the police.
The Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, stated this when at the plenary yesterday when he read a short speech on misconduct and abuse of authority by officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) across the country and the need for additional police reforms
According to him, “Every day, throughout our country, interactions between the police and our citizens result in acts of horrific brutality, extortion, and retribution against the Nigerian people. Too many of the people we have assigned to protect our citizens have shown themselves unworthy of that calling. Their actions betray our trust and wreak unquantifiable damage on the already frayed fabric of our society.”
Gbajabiamila said unfortunately, many of those who have betrayed the trust of the country in this manner are never answerable for their actions.
He stated: “At the heart of this fundamental failure lies the unavoidable truth that we do not have an independent framework for ensuring that members of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) are appropriately held to account when they fail to adhere to the policies and laws that govern their operations.
“We have long expected the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to police itself. It is now abundantly clear that this was the wrong call. For the benefit of a functioning system of policing in Nigeria, it is now necessary that parliament steps in to introduce an independent, fair and practical approach to ensure that those to whom we grant the authority to act in the name of the State, are held to the highest standards of professional conduct.
“Over the next thirty days, the House of Representatives will work with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), with civil society and with Nigerians of good conscience to draft new legislation that establishes a system of independent accountability.”
Also, the House has directed the IG, Adamu, to take decisive action to stop the brutality and human rights violation by the SARS and report the said actions to the House within three weeks.
The directive of the House was sequel to the adoption of a motion on the need to stop SARS brutality, moved by the Leader of the House, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa.
Moving the motion, Doguwa noted with great concern the persistent outcry by Nigerians over the brutality and human rights violation by SARS.
He said despite repeated announcements since 14th August 2018 by Police authorities to reform SARS, the problem of human rights abuses and impunity still persist within the Police Force.
The Leader described as disturbing the alarming rate of unauthorised raids, extortion, stealing, frame-ups, indiscriminate search of mobile phones, and other smart devices and arbitrary confiscation and fraudulent conversion of private property of citizens to personal use.