With the ongoing clamour for holistic reformation in the Nigeria Police and the security sector in general, Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the recent move by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre to engage stakeholders on emplacing security sector governance, was quite timely
At a simple glance, the goal by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) was quite simple- assembly critical stakeholders and the media to look critically at issues that is currently undermining human security in Nigeria, and has largely become a threat to socio-economic and political culture of our co-existence.
But when the sessions began, it became quite obvious that the goal wasn’t as simple as one thought- decades of rot in the security sector would take more than a day to unravel. All the same, the gathering delved into those challenges headlong while proffering workable solutions.
Held in collaboration with Transparency International (TI) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the roundtable at Ikeja, Lagos, brought together lawyers, lawmakers, activists, law enforcers and media practitioners within the security space to look critically at issues that is currently undermining human security in Nigeria, and has largely become a threat to socio-economic and political culture of co-existence.
The roundtable also focused on how the country can localise and operationalise the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF), which was adopted by the Mediation and Security Council (MSC) in January 2008.
The first session was a plenary which dealt with ‘Main Expectations and Opportunities for Security Sector Reforms in Nigeria’ which led to the question and answer section on ‘From Regional to National: Understanding the concept, principle, policy influence and coordination of Security Sector Reforms in Nigeria’.
Afterwards, the third session dealt with ‘Developing a roadmap around: How to localise SSG/R framework in Nigeria, National Action Plan on the operationalisation of the ECPF and roles of stakeholders and their spheres of influence’
The group session dealt with an ‘Overview of the ECPF as a practical guideline to achieving Security Sector Reform-Governance in Nigeria’ before the panel sat to ruminate on the challenges of the security sector and way forward.
Accountability in Security Sector
In his opening remark, the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, said the organisers have worked collectively to institutionalise a participatory system that is vibrant, robust and effective, adding that one of the focus was to equip participants with adequate information and sound oversight skills to monitor track and report gaps within the security framework, processes, practices and spending.
Appraising the country’s security, Musa said there have been failings because of weak sanctioning and deterrence mechanisms, highlighting structural, operational and administrative challenges that have brought about the current impasse.
He advocated a security structure that allows citizen participation and recognises non-state actors, noting that any other strategy was bound to fail because the people would not feel like a part of the process.
He said: “What is the meaning of accountability and justice in the context of the Nigerian security sector? This obviously calls for an urgent review of Nigeria’s current regular noncompliance of security agencies to the rule of law. #EndSARSNow campaign is a classic example of a dare situation that requires immediate approach to make it more effective.
“Simply put, democracy of a nation is measured essentially by the degree of accountability of the sector to civil authority. It is measured by the extent of its professionalism, the respect for human rights, the rule of law and its efficiency and effectiveness.
“The shortfall in these measures are symbolised by corruption in the sector, abuse of fundamental human rights, curtailment of civil liberty and the inability to deliver peace as a public good and the financial cost attendant to it.
“ The internal mechanisms even within the services do not accord with best practices. To this extent, to secure loyalty and professionalism from the rank and file has been challenging and this much has been admitted by the Chief of Army Staff in a public outcry.
“In recent past, the invocation of prayer warrior conference by the Chief of Army Staff is but an example of “thinking outside the box”! Winning the hearts and minds of the populace becomes a key determinant in conflict management.
“Therefore, any security architecture that ignores the input of non-state actors confronts legitimacy and possible failures. The explosion of information technology has shrunk the space of military secrecy. All these perspectives impact on the security sector.”
Expectations for Security Sector Reform
According to Conflict Advisor CISLAC,
Salaudeen Hashim, to ensure accountability and transparency, there was need for a locally driven and inclusive national action plan on security sector reform that is locally driven and inclusive.
He called for the establishment of an independent monitor that will comprise government, private sector and community representatives to monitor the implementation and domestication of the original protocol on SSR/G.
He said: “We will require a complete change in existing security architecture as a response to ongoing dynamics occasioned by insecurity and that will mean it is important to have an independent monitoring body.”
Vital Keys for Reform: The RRS Example
In his submission, the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), Abdulrasak Balogun, canvassed the need for training and retraining of security operatives. Using the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) as example, Balogun said the LSSTF has ensured routine medical evaluation for the personnel, just as he disclosed that their welfare has been adequately provided.
According to him, adequate funding, proper leadership, training and retraining of the police were vital for any meaningful reform to take place.
“Therefore, proper leadership, equipment, modern policing policies, especially training and retraining are required for the reformation of the Nigeria Police Force for better delivery of their statutory duties.
“While the fund supports the review of the operations of the police in line with the modern realities of today and to reflect the civil nature which is expected in a democratic dispensation, it is of the opinion that the issues of operational capacity and logistics (including good remuneration, welfare, medical evaluation, descent accommodation amongst other things) must also be addressed to improve the quality of deliverables by the police.
”LSSTF identifies with everyone demanding for the end of police brutality and the reform of the Nigeria Police. We understand the challenges of the people, and acknowledge your resilience and commitment.
“The Lagos State Government understands the strong connection between security and prosperity as there can be no meaningful development without security. Therefore, in 2007 after the review of the security architecture the government identified the resource deficit of security agencies operating in the state as the main reason for their inefficiency, hence the creation of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund by a law of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
“The fund is an interventionist agency with the mandate to mobilise resources for the improvement of the operational capacity of security agencies operating in Lagos to enable them carry out their statutory responsibilities. In the last 13 years the LSSTF has continued to solicit for voluntary donation in order to improve the operational equipment, logistics and training for security operatives in Lagos especially the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police Command.
“A clear success story of the fund is the RRS which has enjoyed accolades from the public even during this period. It should be noted that the cerebral leadership of the commander (DCP Olatunji Disu) who does not tolerate misconduct of his men and the provision of equipment, logistics and training by the fund is responsible for the RRS feat. It should be emphasised that the training of the operatives are in areas such as Etiquette, Professionalism, Crisis De-escalation and Crime management to mention a few.
“The commitment of LSSTF has shown that with a clear vision, prudent and efficient ways of applying meager resources we can effect a better, people orientated, diligent and successful policing in Nigeria as encapsulated in the RRS.
“It is in view of the above that the fund continues to solicit for donations to provide better equipment, logistics and training for improved efficiency of the police and other security agencies in the Lagos state”.
ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework
The ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) session, which was handled by the Program Officer (Defense and Security) CISLAC, Bertha Ogbimi, highlighted that the framework was aimed at strengthening democratic rule through increased inter-agency partnership, coordination and collaboration in the implementation of a robust Security Sector Reforms/Governance (SSR/G). In essence, this envisioned the setting up of a platform as a strategy to improve alliance, synergy and deepen linkages.
Thus, the ECPF seeks to bridge the gap between policy and operations as a comprehensive operational conflict prevention and peace-building strategy on security governance by promoting human security, accountability, transparency, and professionalism of security forces.
The legislation also envisages the adoption of a regulatory framework with sanctions regime on non-statutory armed groups such as militias, vigilantes and private security outfits.
In her submission, she noted that security means posterity and safety of life and property for all, adding that security is not just a local affair, but also a regional and global issue, which reinforces the importance of regional and international cooperation. Highlighting that
Nigeria occupies a strategic place in regional and global affairs, she said it underscores the need for the country to develop a framework that can serve as a reference point for ECOWAS and all member states.
The ECPF comprises 15 components including its ‘Enabling Mechanism’ which is at the heart of reinforcing intra-ECOWAS cooperation and ensuring the coordination of the implementation of the ECPF Plans of Action (PoA) that contributes to a measurable improvement of peace, security and stability in the region.
According to ECOWAS report, the PoA being launched, drives the activities of the components which include: early warning, preventive diplomacy, democracy and political governance, human rights and rule of law, media, natural resource governance, cross-border initiatives and security governance.
Others are: Women, peace and security, youth empowerment, ECOWAS Stand-By Force, Humanitarian assistance, peace education (Culture of peace) as well as the Enabling Mechanism.
The ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) was adopted by the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council (MSC) in January 2008 to provide a framework for identifying, designing and implementing programs and activities for operational and structural conflict prevention in ECOWAS Member States.
By mainstreaming conflict prevention into ECOWAS’ policies and programs, the ECPF seeks to provide tools to strengthen regional and national capacities for preventing violent conflicts or their recurrence.
In a panel moderated by Hashim, the three panelists- Chiemelie Ezeobi of THISDAY, Precious Igbonwelundu of The Nation and Onyeisi Chiemeke, a lawyer and author, pointed out the need for attitudinal change, a central crime database, intelligence driven policing as well as blocking all loopholes in revenue generation that fuel corruption in the security sector.
They observed that corruption is at the root of insecurity in Nigeria, thus, if the nation wants to deal with insecurity squarely, then corruption must be dealt with. They also pointed out that oversight function on security agencies in Nigeria was weak, especially in the light of the fact that the biggest issue in Nigeria’s insecurity crisis is human security.
They also posited that partisanship is undermining security sector, which reinforces the need to have a complete overhaul of the country’s security architecture.
At the end of the sessions, the government was charged to ensure security agencies are treated fairly with good welfare package and that those recruited are mentally and psychologically stable and fit for the job.
The government was also tasked- to ensure training and retraining of officers with the training tailored to equip them for better service delivery;
ensure fundamental change in the operation mode of security agencies and not just change of name; ensure that any officer found guilty of negligence on duty should be punished to serve as deterrents; know that there is a direct link between corruption and insecurity and ensure adequate oversight, as oversight over security agencies is weak at present; as well as ensure leadership elevation with the security agencies.
Not left out were the Civil Society Organisations (CSO), who were charged to support security agencies and help push and implement fundamental reforms in the security sector, as well as help galvanise funding security agencies.
At the end, it was a general consensus that CISLAC be commended for its valuable contributions over the years in partnership with local and international organisations towards an effective and robust security framework in Nigeria and West African sub region, all targeted towards global peace.