By Levinus Nwabughiogu – Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Wednesday, described the current structure of the Nigerian Police Force as being too weak to identify, account for, remove and prosecute rogue officers.
He said that effective policing must be firmly rooted in the rule of law, which must also elicit faith and confidence in the people instead of fear and apprehensions.
The Speaker, Gbajabiamila, spoke at the public policy dialogue on “Policing and Human Rights in Nigeria,” organised by the House Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of the Legislative Agenda, which is coming ahead of a police reforms bill due to be laid before the House soon.
Gbajabiamila said the bill would be holistic and would satisfy the yearning of the Nigerians.
In the synopsis of the new bill, Section 6(1)(I) and 7(c) gave Nigerians power to make complaints against erring police officers.
The complaint may be made orally or in writing but not by any electronic means and shall contain the nature and particulars of the misconduct, the name of the police officer involved, the number of the police officer involved, date and time estimates of when the incident took place and any other relevant information to aid easy identification of the officer involved.
According to the Speaker, effective policing is only possible when the institutions are grounded in the rule of law, are accountable and the justice system in its entirety is fair to all who have cause to appear before it.
Gbajabiamila said: “We cannot have an effective policing system when the citizens do not have faith that the Police will treat them fairly every time, no matter the circumstance.
“The Police cannot be effective when the mechanisms for accountability and discipline are too weak to identify, remove and prosecute rogue officers as a matter of course.
“The Police includes in its leadership and ranks, many dedicated public servants doing their jobs as best as they can, under challenging circumstances.
“We want to help them be better public servants by making it easier to remove rogue officers from among their midst because bad Police make it impossible for good Police to do their work.
“When we think about policing reforms, we must resist the urge to focus only on making new rules about police conduct, and establishing new ways of holding officers accountable for failures to meet the standards of behaviour that we expect from them.
“Policing reform is more profound than that. Yes, we must begin by holding officers accountable, but we cannot stop there.”
At the meeting were the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu; President, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Olumide Akpata, and Chairman, House Committee on Police Affairs, Adamu, among others.