House Committee on Police Visits IGP, Seeks Justice

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Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that the House of Representatives Committee on Police Affairs has initiated a dialogue with the Nigerian Police leadership to forestall future reoccurrence of the violence that attended the #EndSARS protests across the country

Pursuant to its oversight functions, the House Committee on Police Affairs conferred with the Nigerian Police leadership at the weekend, reeling out imminent legislative measures to forestall future reoccurrence of the violence that attended the #EndSARS protests across the country.

Committee Chairman, Honourable Usman Bello Kumo revealed after the oversight consultation with the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu that the House will ensure a police operational account to enable swift funding of emergencies in the imminent 2021 Budget, aside pushing for a review of relevant legislation to enable better policing of the country.

Kumo, in company of his colleagues, additionally advised that an inventory of lost lives, and an evaluation of the situation in the South East, in Zamfara and in Plateau need be done to allow a fuller view of the disturbances.

Other than this are an account of the list and experiences of citizens who are not just victims of the alleged brutality of SARS, but who suffered from the destructions of the last few days, in line with the mandates of the ongoing judicial commission of inquiry.

He added: “We also need an account of the list and experiences of police officers who either died or were brutalized in the violence of the last few days, besides institutional assets damaged or destroyed”

Kumo said it was necessary to provide compensation for victims, either on the side of the police and on the side of citizens, towards restitution, in addition to the broader view of evaluating violence and disturbances to cover other endangered states and territories like Katsina and Zamfara, amongst others.

Earlier on, the House committee had sought to know how an otherwise peaceful protest turned violent, leading to deaths, and destructions, including burning of police facilities across the nation, and why were the police, the lead security agency in the enforcement of law and order, not take charge of the Lekki Toll Gate, or take charge of the curfew imposed in Lagos, instead of their sister security agency-the army.

The committee also sought to know the extent to which the police would say the lack of personnel and equipment to control the violence, which included even the destruction of police assets, worsened the problem, and how to improve the capacity of the police to prevent or handle a future occurrence.

It was also important to know the steps taken to protect police assets, apprehend and sanction hoodlums that infiltrated the protest, to serve as deterrence to occurrences.

They asked finally: “Now that SARS is disbanded, what are the concrete steps towards training and professionalizing of SWAT, consistent with the planned psychological evaluation of members, and the need to develop a standard operational procedure, towards respecting citizens’ rights, while carrying out lawful activities, and how soon can we see evidence of this?”

Responding, the IGP noted that the Force has started comprehensive Internal Review and Evaluation of circumstances that led to the ENDSARS protests and the violence, fatalities and damage to critical infrastructure that emanated therefrom.

The police apprised the Committee of efforts made so far by the Force to restore normalcy and prevent future occurrence. Some of these efforts, the IGP said include strengthening the internal disciplinary mechanism of the Force, training of the newly formed Tactical Squad, debriefing and psychological/medical examination for operatives of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad and general improvement of police-citizen relationship.

The IGP reassured the committee and the Nigerian people that the Force is more than ever before, committed to Police Reforms and ensuring a safe environment for all to live and thrive devoid of any violation of their fundamental human rights.

The House visit is in line with best practice belief expounded by Mario j. Aguja and Hans Born, that “In a democratic society, the police plays an important role in ensuring public order and safety. Governed by the rule of law and guided by the principles of human rights, the police is mandated to abide by and implement the laws produced by the duly constituted authorities. On the other hand, an elected parliament is another important feature of a democratic polity. It has a mandate to represent the people and dutifully pursue matters of public interest”

Other than that, “As democratically elected representatives of the people, among its many mandates, parliament is tasked with overseeing the state apparatuses authorized to bear weapons for the protection of the state and its people, more specifically the military, police, intelligence services, and militias. It is parliament’s role to ensure that the security sector is effective and accountable”

The code of the parliament also envisages that “As the primary agency for law enforcement, the police operates at close proximity to the public and exerts significant influence. While there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, good SSG is based on the idea that the security sector should be held to the same high standards of public service delivery as any other public sector. If the security sector is well governed, it can be characterized as an effective and accountable sector capable of fulfilling its mandate to protect society against internal and external threats while respecting the rule of law and human rights.

“On the other hand, a poorly governed security sector is characterized by multiple security and accountability deficits, including: over-inflated security establishments that are difficult to support financially, but frequently constitute a major political and economic force; lack of transparency and accountability; inadequate defence planning, poor management and budgeting capacity in both civilian and military institutions; a long history of human-rights abuses by security forces and a tendency for security forces to act with impunity; corruption; an insufficient number of civilians capable of managing and providing oversight of security matters; and inadequate professional development.

“Furthermore, political interference by the security forces and politicization of security forces by civilian actors are two sides of the same coin, reflecting major deficiencies in a security sector. Democratic accountability can be achieved through a plurality of methods. Mechanisms of democratic control vary according to a number of factors, such as the country’s historical context, cultural traditions, form of government (i.e. monarchy, parliamentary republic or presidential system), constitutional-legislative framework, and socio-economic conditions”

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The House visit is in line with best practice belief expounded by Mario j. Aguja and Hans Born, that “In a democratic society, the police plays an important role in ensuring public order and safety. Governed by the rule of law and guided by the principles of human rights, the police is mandated to abide by and implement the laws produced by the duly constituted authorities. On the other hand, an elected parliament is another important feature of a democratic polity. It has a mandate to represent the people and dutifully pursue matters of public interest