21 Rights Groups to Monitor Implementation of Police Act, Trust Fund

Kingsley Nwezeh

Following concerns about the implementation of the Police Act 2020 and the Police Trust Fund 2019, 21 civil society groups yesterday launched an observatory group to promote accountability and police reform.

The observatory which was launched in Abuja covers the North-central zone and the Federal Capital Territory.

The membership of the observatory includes the Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) and over 20 other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

The event also featured the inception meeting and capacity building for CSOs in the North- central zone of the country and FCT and was attended by over 30 participants drawn from the CSOs, the media, as well as representatives of the management of the Police Trust Fund (NPTF), the National Human Rights Commission(NCHR) and the Police Service Commission (PSC).

Speaking at the occasion, the Executive Director, RULAAC, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma, while welcoming participants at the event explained that RULAAC was a member of a consortium implementing different activities under a Police Reform Project supported by MacArthur Foundation.

Nwangwuma listed other members of the consortium as CLEEN Foundation, the consortium lead, NOPRIN, the National Human Rights Commission, and the Rule of Law Unit in the Office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He stated that the project aims to promote police accountability and police reform in Nigeria.

“Primarily, this project is designed to address the persistent problem of police brutality and human rights violations through a coordinated effort of civil society organisations carefully selected for the task.

“Globally, police institutions have come under scrutiny and concerns about the delivery of their mandate, especially on the issue of extrajudicial killings and the use of force beyond permissible levels by officers across the globe,” he said.

He recalled that 2020 witnessed massive global outrage, protests and upheavals precipitated by police brutality and the impunity that protects the perpetrators

He cited the public outcry that greeted the killing of a black African-American, George Floyd, in the United States of America (USA), which sparked a reaction by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the USA and across the world to restrain the powers of the police.

“In Nigeria, there had been persistent calls to professionalise the Nigeria Police Force focusing, especially, on the detestable activities of the defunct F-SARS which received little or no attention from the police authority and the Nigerian government until the advent of the “EndDSARS” campaign against the police and their high handedness in 2020 which sought the disbandment of the unit.

“These protests were precipitated by years of bottled-up anger by citizens over police high-handedness, extortion, professional misconduct by operatives of the FSARS unit, and the general police culture of incivility that has characterised the operations of Nigeria Police Force,” Nwanguma said.

In order to address these concerns in Nigeria, Nwanguma revealed that the consortium proposed a series of actions that aim to facilitate communication on policy formulation and police reform agenda in Nigeria and aid the upholding of the tenets of police accountability and human rights in order to protect Nigeria’s fragile democracy.

He hinted that the Civil Society Organisations – Police Trust Fund (CSO-PTF) Support and Oversight Group would drive a vigorous and sustained public awareness campaign across the six geo-political zones on the purpose and existence of the Police Act and the Police Trust Fund Act, adding that the group would hold zonal and bi-monthly meetings in order to assess the performance of the PTF across Nigeria.

The inception meeting and training were used to introduce the project and intimate CSOs on their roles as members of the support group and to build their capacity on the Police Act 2020 and the Police Trust Fund Act 2019 respectively.

The inauguration of PTF-CSOs Support and Oversight Group in the North-central zone and FCT is the first in a series of such zonal launches.

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