Tasking Buhari on reformation of security agencies | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Tasking Buhari on reformation of security agencies

Posted: Apr 20, 2015 at 12:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chukwudi Nweje Lagos

Under Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.  Section 14 (2)(c)goes further to state that “the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.” To ensure the security of the citizenry, the government relies on the police and other security agencies.



Section 4 of the Police Act lists the general duties of the police to include that “the police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged, and shall perform such military duties within or outside Nigeria as may be required of them by, or under the authority of this or any other Act.”

To ensure that the police live above board, the code of conduct for police officers states that in the performance of the duties of a police officer, “a police officer shall perform all duties impartially, without favour of affection or ill will and without regard to status, sex, race, religion, political belief or aspiration.

“All citizens will be treated equally with courtesy, consideration and dignity. Officers will never allow personal feelings, animosities or friendships to influence official conduct. Laws will be enforced appropriately and courteously and in carrying out their responsibilities, officers will strive to obtain maximum cooperation from the public. They will conduct themselves both in appearance and composure, in such a manner as to inspire confidence and respect for the position of public trust they hold.”

How well the police have lived up to this is a matter of debate. The police and the security agencies have been accused of partisanship in the discharge of their duties. Stakeholders have blamed the politicisation of the security agencies for what they termed the rot in the security apparatuses of the country.

With the general elections successfully held and a new government standing by to take over the machinery of government come May 29, 2015 the need to restore the fallen glory of the police and security agencies have again come to the front burner. The general consensus is that the government can live up to the responsibilities of Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution is when the security agencies are brought back on track to discharging their duties professionally.

In this regard, the Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN) Foundation has asked President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the overhauling of the entire security architecture of Nigeria to insulate the police and security agencies from partisan political control and enhance professionalism, integrity and efficiency. The group said the heads of the various security agencies have “clearly showed where their loyalty is: not to the law, not to the Nigerian people through their elected representatives but solely to the executive and the ruling party.”

It therefore urged Buhari to effect the compulsory retirement of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sulieman Abba as well as the heads of the various security agencies that have been politically exposed as soon as he takes his oath of office on May 29 if he hoped to restore the integrity and professionalism of the security services.

NOPRIN in a reformation agenda entitled ‘overhaul Nigeria’s Security Architecture to -Restore Professionalism, Discipline and Effectiveness, Check Corruption, Abuse and Impunity’ the group argued that unless professionalism, discipline are restored to the security services, the nation will continue to grapple with security challenges.

Okechukwu Nwanguma, National Coordinator of NOPRIN who blamed what he called the rot in the police on the constitutional provision which placed the control and operational use of the police on the president called for the amendment of Section 215(3) of the 1999 Constitution and Sections 9 (4) and (5), and 10(1) and (2) of the Police act to restore the control of the police on the IGP.  This is as he described the Police Act enacted in 1943 and which currently governs the workings of the police as outdated.

He said that for the police to be responsive, it should be made accountable to multiple constituencies. “The police should be accountable to the law, the judiciary and the people through their elected representatives and not just the executive”, he said.

He said the Police Service Commission (PSC), the civilian oversight body of the police needed to be strengthened, arguing that the PSC as presently composed is nothing more than “a dismal chronicle of rubber-stamping decisions taken by the police.” NOPRIN also tasked the President-elect on improving police welfare and training to bring the institution up to global best practice.