Amidst the growing nationwide #EndSARS protests against police brutality, the CLEEN Foundation and the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN Foundation) have explained why previous police reforms, including the last four exercises, have failed.
Dr Benson Olugbuo, Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation and Barrister Saviour Akpan, National Chairperson, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN Foundation), said in a statement that implementation of the recommendations failed due to lack of political will and commitment to genuine reforms.
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They demanded a holistic reform of the Nigerian Police, saying the piecemeal approach would not help the cause of security in the nation.
According to them, the setting-up of the new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit did not evolve through an inclusive stakeholders’ engagement, hence its rejection by the protesters and other segments of the society.
“The CLEEN and NOPRIN foundations commend the actions of the government in addressing a key demand of the #ENDSARS protests.
“However, we are worried that the setting-up of the SWAT Unit did not evolve through an inclusive stakeholders’ engagement”, they said.
They noted that several committees were set-up in the past by the Federal Government to review the challenges affecting the Nigeria Police Force and to recommend reform, including the Muhammad Danmadami Presidential Committee on Police Reform 2006; the M.D. Yusuf Presidential Committee on the Reform of the Nigeria Police 2008; and the Parry Osayande Committee on Police Reform in 2012.
“In addition, the CLEEN Foundation and NOPRIN Foundation coordinated the CSOs Panel on Police Reform constituted in 2012 which made several recommendations on effective, human rights and citizens centred policing.
“However, implementation of these recommendations has been very slow due to lack of political will and commitment to genuine reform,” they said.
The two organisations said that in the light of the current agitations for a comprehensive reform of the Nigeria Police Force, there is an urgent need for an extensive and deeper reflection on the nation’s security needs.
Attack on protesters
“As civil society organisations working to support the Nigeria Police Force in its mandate to police effectively and in line with democratic values, we are worried that despite the peaceful protests by Nigerian youths against police brutality, some personnel of the Nigeria Police Force and armed thugs allegedly attacked unarmed protesters in Abuja and Lagos leading to human right violations.
“We welcome the statement of the IGP on the protection of peaceful protesters by the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force.
“We will monitor compliance through our citizen observers in all the 774 local governments across the country using the CLEENMobile Application”, they said.
The groups added that, “In addition, the Police Reform Observatory will work with other CSOs, government agencies, the academia, the media, retired security personnel, and the private sector to coordinate a broad based CSO response on police reform in Nigeria.”