Want personnel punish for brutality
By Christiana Ekpa
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has said the lower chamber will work closely with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and other civil society organisations to draft new legislation that would hold erring members of the police force to account for their conduct in the performance of their duties.
This was just as the House of Representatives has asked the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to provide it with comprehensive records of disciplinary or judicial actions taken against officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), accused of abuse of power in the last five years.
The new legislation will also compel the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) to take responsibility for the failures of training and discipline that leads to such violations and impose civil and criminal liability for violations of the police code.
The speaker disclosed this in a statement issued shortly before the commencement of Wednesday’s plenary.
He lamented that “Every day, throughout our country, interactions between the police and our citizens result in acts of horrific brutality, extortion, and retribution against the Nigerian people.
“Too many of the people we have assigned to protect our citizens have shown themselves unworthy of that calling. Their actions betray our trust and wreak unquantifiable damage on the already frayed fabric of our society.
“Unfortunately, many of those who have betrayed our trust in this manner are never answerable for their actions.
“At the heart of this fundamental failure lies the unavoidable truth that we do not have an independent framework for ensuring that members of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) are appropriately held to account when they fail to adhere to the policies and laws that govern their operations”.
Gbajabiamila noted that “
We have long expected the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to police itself. It is now abundantly clear that this was the wrong call.
“For the benefit of a functioning system of policing in Nigeria, it is now necessary that parliament steps in to introduce an independent, fair and practical approach to ensure that those to whom we grant the authority to act in the name of the State, are held to the highest standards of professional conduct”
Gbajabiamila stated that “substantive and wholesale reform of policing institutions is never an easy undertaking. From Europe to America, and across Africa, we have seen such efforts begin and falter.
“Police reforms succeed when such reforms have the support of the citizens who are determined to see the process through to a rewarding end, regardless of whatever obstacles might exist along the way.
“This House of Representatives will act to ensure that those agents of the state to whom we have assigned the duty to protect and serve, are deserving of the faith and respect of the Nigerian people” he said
Also yesterday, the House through a motion sponsored by the majority leader, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa urged the Inspector General of Police to take decisive action to stop the brutality and human rights violation by SARS and report the said actions to the House within three weeks.
They asked the IGP to produce a comprehensive record of disciplinary and(or) judicial action taken against the officers accused of abuse of power in the past five years.
Similarly, the House mandated the police boss to produce immediate plan for identifying and compensation for victims.
The House equally mandated its joint committee of justice, human rights and police affairs to conduct public hearing on the human rights violation of citizens by SARS and submit their report within 6 weeks for further legislative action.
In adopting the motion, the House resolved to amend existing laws and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to excise section 215(5) and replace it with provisions that ensure judicial review of Police actions is enshrined and protected by the constitution.