Nigeria: A Look Into the Police Reform Roadmap By Dingyadi

Deji Elumoye x-rays initiatives put in place by the Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Mohammed Dingyadi, aimed at reforming the Nigeria Police Force.

The current security challenges in Nigeria including insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, violent and organized crime make a compelling case for a reorientation and reform of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

The police and other security agencies in Nigeria are key players in the Federal Government’s efforts to handle the problems threatening our democracy. Ending police abuses and increasing police effectiveness and accountability will help to make democracy more meaningful to the majority of the people, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Police personnel are perceived as inefficient and corrupt, previous police reform efforts seem to have been motivated by the need for regime survival, rather than an attempt to make policing more effective. In order for police reforms in Nigeria to be effective, certain structural changes are necessary. key institutional reforms must be implemented for community based policing to be effective, including decentralisation of authority and so on.

The task of reforming the Nigerian police began on June 21, 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Police Trust Fund bill into law. This law seeks to actualize the vision and mission of Mr President for the police to provide additional sources of funding to mobilize the police force.

Recall that the Ministry of Police Affairs was established on the 21st of August 2019 by Mr President to, among other things, give attention to re-equipping and re-tooling the police, remodel policing infrastructure via the government community policing initiative and promote commitment to duty through the improvement of welfare for our policemen and women in this country.

The Ministry of Police Affairs has Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Police Academy and the Police Trust Fund as the three agencies under its supervision and is saddled with the responsibility of supporting the vision and mission of Mr President to ensure that policing this country is citizen-centred and civil in the performance of their duties.

All these objectives have since been made operational by the ministry manned by Alhaji Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi.

Recently, Dingyadi, at the 38th Session of the ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team spoke on the current status of policing and security in the country and gave insight on key updates from the Presidential Roadmap on Police Reform, innovative strides currently being executed in the Nigeria Police and the impact the implementation of police reforms would have on internal security in Nigeria.

According to him, the overall objective of the implementation phase is to strengthen the effectiveness of the NPF. The framework, he said will develop indicators and tools to capture results, outcomes and impact and identify key lessons in the implementation of the Roadmap. The reform initiative he also said is to create a more effective, accountable and responsive police institution; better able to fight crime and secure the life and property of citizens through operationalization of the provisions of the Police Act 2020. This, he explained requires a transitioning away from the NPF of today to the NPF of the future.

The Minister stressed that if meaningful change is to be achieved through the reform of the NPF, attention has to be paid to both the police as well as policing. He further stressed that the reform roadmap for the police must be guided by certain principles which will serve as the salient pillars of the reform effort.

The principles include, “Building trust and nurturing legitimacy on both sides of the police – citizen divide is the foundational principle underlying the nature of relations between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. If the police are to carry out their responsibilities according to established policies, those policies must reflect community values. The use of technology can improve policing practices and build community trust and legitimacy, but its

implementation must be built on a defined policy framework with its purposes and goals clearly delineated. Given the complexity and diversity of the society, policing must be reimagined and reinvented as a partnership between the police and the public. Community policing which emphasizes working with local residents to co-create public safety must be entrenched as a guiding philosophy for all stakeholders. As the scope of law enforcement’s responsibilities expands, the need for expanded and more effective training has become critical. Officers must be trained and enabled to address a wide variety of challenges including international terrorism, communal conflicts, evolving technologies, changing laws, new cultural mores, and a growing mental health crisis. The welfare and safety of police officers is critical not only for the officers, their colleagues, and the NPF, but also to public safety. The proper implementation of measures designed to guarantee officer wellness and safety is essential to boosting morale and increasing productivity.”

Achievements So Far

Listing some of the achievements by his ministry, the Minister said that following President Buhari’s assent to the Police Trust Fund bill in 2019, the fund has successfully delivered on its 2020 and 2021 budgets, purchasing operational vehicles, arms and ammunition, bulletproof vests and helmets for police operations.

The fund also purchased medical items to meet the health needs of policemen nationwide. In addition, accommodation for the police has also received a facelift.

Similarly, he recalled that on September 16, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Nigerian Police Bill 2020, which repealed the obsolete police laws of the Federation 2004.

This composite document, he said, has elicited an array of ongoing reforms, in the Nigerian police to ensure the sustainable reformation of the police and make it accountable and deeply rooted. The Federal Government also approved the setting up of a police reform technical team in the office of the SGF to coordinate efforts geared towards achieving this lofty aim.

His words, “it is gratifying to report that a lot has been achieved in this direction. Of particular reference are the technical assessments of the three premier training colleges in Maiduguri, Kaduna, Lagos, and Enugu. Upward review of recruitment procedures and training curricula in these institutions is also under consideration. Development of promotion and leadership courses at all levels of these institutions are also being reviewed by the technical committee.

Overall, the presidential police reform team will in due course harmonize submissions so that we have a similar committee at the most senior level to involve 21st century and nimble-footed in the policing architecture in Nigeria. The newly approved enhanced emolument for the police personnel further underscores the government’s commitment to entrenching welfare being a key component of police reforms under this administration. All the necessary computations to guide the payment of the new salary package have been completed and forwarded to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning for implementation, which is expected to commence very soon.

“You’re already aware that the ministry has obtained approval from the Federal Executive Council for the concession of the moribund National Public Security Communication System, which was installed in all states of the Federation, except Borno State by the previous administration, because of the security challenges at that time. This initiative is aimed at reviving this project, due to its critical importance in the security architecture of the country. When fully operational, happenings in all parts of the country will be monitored in real-time on the command and control centre for proactive policing and prompt response to situations. Efforts are currently ongoing by the concessionaire, that is NPS technology to revive this project. The concessionaire has taken over the facilities and is currently pursuing the issuance of universal access service license from the National Communications Commission to commence full-scale operation. We also have the Police Specialized Automation Project (POSA). In a bid to block financial leakages, deepen accountability and mitigate funding gaps for policing in Nigeria, the ministry recently secured the federal executive council approval for the police specialized automation project. It is envisaged that in the medium and long term period, the project will deliver economic benefits and improved efficiencies for the police as follows:.

“The automated process will bring about efficiency and eliminate subjectivity, lack of transparency, resource allocation and utilization. It will increase the general working condition of the entire police force. It will improve the poor perception of the Nigerian police force while improving professionalism. To ensure a significant contribution to government funds by better revenue and operating surpluses. It will also generate complementary revenue for the pole force, to mitigate the huge impact of poor budgetary reallocations on the police. It will position the Nigerian police force for effective resource efficiency in meeting its statutory service obligations. It will also promote transparency, probity and accountability by eliminating unethical activities of middlemen, or facilitators associated with the manual system that used to happen. For purposes of emphasis, the police specialised automation project, is primarily targeted at the organizations and individuals who are seeking these specialised services such as protection services for oil and gas and telecommunication sectors, special protection and guard services for banking and financial services, special protection and guard services for hospitality, real estate and fast-moving consumer goods sectors.”

In a bid to reawaken citizen trust, eliminate apathy for successful implementation of community policing initiatives and improve citizens’ participation in policing and human intelligence, the Minister said his ministry embarked on a resuscitation drive for the police public complaints committee.

This committee he said has embarked on a sensitization campaign, expected to cover the six geopolitical zones of the country. The immediate sensitization of the southwest took place in Lagos in November 202, while that of the northwest took place in Sokoto state, in February 2022. Similar campaigns for the north-central, took place in Lokoja, Kogi state in March 2022, while arrangements are in place to conclude this rally in three other geopolitical zones, in the next campaign slated for May 26, 2022, in Cross River State, in the south-south region.

Admission of More Constables

The ministry through the Police Academy is a degree-awarding institution for the police, has graduated and conducted the passing out of 637 cadets on 14th December 2019, as superintendent of police.

We also admitted 1,295 undergraduates for the 2019/2020 academic session. Additionally, they have also graduated and passed out 603 ASPs in 2018, 627 cadets ASPs in 2019 and 423 ASPs in the 2021 academic year. Further to this, the recruitment of 40,000 constables approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, in trenches of 10,000 per batch it’s now in the third batch. When completed in July 2022, it will improve manpower requirements in Nigerian police by 30,000 in addition to the ASPs that are being graduated between 2019 to date. The recruitment of police is controversial. I don’t know how controversial it is. But I want to tell you that I’ve already reported on this. You will recall that Mr President had directed us to recruit 40,000 Constables within his second tenure. So far we have recruited 20,000, and we are on the third trench of this recruitment. And I think in the next one month or two, we will be concluding the third trench and we will be having about 30,000 constables on our payroll.

There have been repeated calls for psychiatric evaluation for the police personnel. I’m sure you’ve seen the latest video of a police lady dragging the wheel with a driver and calling for help. Are we going to continue to see such a terrible situation among the police force?

Talking about the psychological test and other tests that you are talking about, I want to assure you that we are busy taking every possible measure to ensure that we conduct thorough examinations, and very extensive screening, including medical tests to ensure that those we are recruiting are not coming just into any job. We are recruiting the best of hands to ensure that we support the principle of good policing in the country. I am not aware of the case you are talking about, but some of these things sometimes happen in any organization. But I want to believe that there is high mortality in all police formations and we are doing our best to recruit the best from society.

Renovation of Barracks

Talking about police barracks being renovated and what we are doing to improve their welfare. Yes, the police cannot work effectively in that environment. I entirely agree with you. And I believe maybe you missed the few things that I said earlier. Otherwise, we are already aware of this and that is why we are paying special attention to the renovation of these barracks and police formations.

You have to have a very serene environment for the police to perform. So we are aware of this and we are giving it the needed attention that it deserves. I believe we’re already aware, or maybe we have forgotten because it has been a very long-standing story of the paucity of funds, very poor budgeting of the Police, particularly in the days that you are talking about when you were very young, the police were badly funded. We have never had it as good as we’re having it today.

I want to assure you that the Police Trust Fund and the Police Force Headquarters are now paying special attention to the renovation and construction of new barracks and new officers for the police.

Implementation of Community Policing

We couldn’t have trained 25,000 constabularies if the programme had not started. The programme is on course and is in all the 36 states of the Federation, and these constabularies have been posted to their various communities. And like I said, in my presentation, to do a lot of policing activities in those areas, and to add to the visibility of police in those communities. The responsibility of the communities in which these constabularies are being posted is to cooperate with these constabularies to ensure that they assist them in sharing intelligence, in reporting cases that need to be reported. And to assist them in resolving issues that can be easily or locally resolved. So the community policing programme is there for the communities to ensure that they collaborate with these constabularies to provide peace in their communities.

Dingyadi added that in line with the unwavering determination of Mr President to address the several security challenges which had bedevilled the country over the years, the ministry is poised to do its best to work out a strategy and contribute to efforts towards the repositioning of the Nigerian police force for the protection of life and property and to ensure sustainable economic growth and development.

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