Bill to replace 75 year old Police Act scales second reading

 
Wed Jul 11th, 2018 - Abuja (FCT)
 

*** As Senate blasts FG for deploying 30,000 police personnel for Ekiti Election
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – A Bill to replace the Seventy- Five year Police Act, yesterday scaled second reading in the Senate, just as the lawmakers are delirious to establish a service-oriented modern police that would meet globally acceptable policing standards.
Police
The Police Act( Repeal and Re- Enactment) Bill 2018 which scaled second reading yesterday if finally passed and signed into law, would replace the Police Act which came into effect on 1st April, 1943 with all its subsequent amendments.

The Bill was read for the first time in this Senate on Wednesday, 30th May, 2018.

Meanwhile, ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State, the Senate yesterday condemned in very strong terms, federal government’s plans to deploy 30,000 police officers and men for the exercise while killings of innocent Nigerians continued unabated across the country.

Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah said it did not make any sense for the Nigeria Police Force, NPF to deploy such number of security agents while it had failed to deploy 10, 000 to Zamfara and other states where there was high level of insecurity.

They both spoke during the consideration of a bill for an Act to repeal and re-enact the Police Act of 1943, which has been in existence for about 75 years without any amendment.

The decision of the Senate yesterday was sequel to the presentation of the lead debate by Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Na’Allah, APC, Kebbi South.

In his remarks, Senator Na’allah who noted that there was the need to reform the Nigeria Police for better service, however frowned at the government’s insensitivity to the high spate of killings in the country while paying much attention to a governorship election.

He said: “30,000 policemen to supervise an election in Ekiti while they could not mobilise 10,000 men to stop the killings in Zamfara and other places. Our party, the APC that I represent will frown at this, it is not part of our manifesto, it is not what we promised the people and I am sure that the president himself knows that this is not acceptable. Unfortunately, the police have already conditioned that service, ‘korokoro’ eye service.

“We would continue to tell the people that we will leave our promise that is why we are before you for the reform. Let it not be a situation where a killing would be involved and we have 10,000 police and an election is going on and we have 30,000 police.

“I don’t like that situation. I appall it and I think that it does not represent what we stand for as a party and therefore we would seek the indulgence of our colleagues to reform this institution that is called the Nigerian Police”.

In his remarks, Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, also condemned the mobilization of such huge number of police men for a day election while hundreds of innocent people are being killed on daily basis in some states, adding, “In response to this your last statement, I am also worried about the fact that we have 30,000 police men you can deploy in a state for election and the other issue here is the issue of sincerity in deploying 30,000 policemen and (if) it would ensure security of lives and properties, there is no problem with that.

“But sometimes, some of this statistics are misleading and it only goes to count when allowances are to be paid and nobody is sure how many people actually participated, meanwhile provision were made for that number; that is my warning here.

“But if we have 30,000 policemen that we can deploy them and pay them and it can be accounted for, I have no problem with that anyways. We need to ensure accountability, this is important not just dropping figures.”

The bill, which was first read on May 30, 2018, was thereafter passed for second reading and referred to the Senate Committee on Police Affairs for further legislative action.

It would be recalled that the Force Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, a Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP said in a statement on Sunday that 30,000 personnel, two Patrol Surveillance Helicopters, five additional Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), 10 Armoured Personnel Vehicles and 250 police patrol vehicles have been deployed for the election slated to hold on Saturday, July 14.

The general idea behind this Bill is the establishment of a service oriented modern Police that will meet globally acceptable policing standards in a democratic setting to replace the current Police Force which was conceptualize and established in the Colonial environment more to protect the colonial interést than 1 to protect and safeguard the Nigerian citizen.

The philosophy of the Bill goes to the conceptualization of the Police as a service in which the people and communities are core stakeholders and in Which the people come first as against the Police as a Force which stood apart from the people it set out to protect and safeguard.

The general principle of the bill is for a police that will meet globally acceptable policing standards in a democratic setting.

“This is to replace the current Police Force which was conceptualised and established in the Colonial environment more to protect the colonial interést than to protect and safeguard the Nigerian citizens.”

He said the Bill when passed into law would replace the Police Act, which came into effect on April 1, 1943 with all its subsequent amendments.

“The highlights of the Bill includes: Section 5, which seeks to establish for Nigeria, a Police organisation to be known as the Nigeria Police to replace the Nigeria Police Force thereby removing the colonial vestiges of the police.

“Making the Police more responsive to modern day policing in an independent nation governed by the Constitution and laws promulgated there-under and to bring it within acceptable global standards of police in democratic countries.

“Unlike the existing Police Act, the Bill outlines the roles and duties of the Police hierarchy to avoid role conflict and to introduce a Responsibility Clause to make them more effective.”

The deputy Senate leader who further explained that the Bill was certainly not an absolute panacea to the country’s policing problems but would be a major contribution to addressing it, said that he was not opposed to the creation of state police added that there were some states that could not afford state police.

He said, “In the event that the Bill for the creation of state police succeeds in the Senate and House of Representatives, the consequence of it is that those states that are going to rely heavily on the Federal Police will continue to go through this odium. It is in line with this that it is important to revisit the entire structure of the Nigerian Police.

Speaking further, Senator Bala Ibn Na’ allah said, “Unlike the existing Police Act, the Bill outlines the roles and duties of the Police hierarchy to avoid role conflict and to introduce a Responsibility Clause to make them more effective.

“Section 24(2) of the Bill forbids a Police Officer from being the prosecutor in matter that he or she participated to promote and respect the principles of natural justice and allow for a free and fair trial.

“Section 28 of the Bill provides for the bail of persons arrested Without warrant to the effect that such persons shall not be kept in Police detention for more than 24hours without being charged to Court Within jurisdiction to try them. This is to bring the provision of the Act, when passed into law to conform with the constitutionally enshrined right to personal liberty as provided for by Section 35 (5) of the constitution and the African Charter on Human and people’s rights, which Nigeria has since ratified and which consequently is part of our municipal laws. ‘

“Part Eight deals with offences by a Police Officer. The Bill elaborates on existing offences within the existing Police Act and Section 51 particularly criminalizes the drinking while on duty of any intoxicating liquor. This provision in intended to prevent the abuse of weapons by a drunken Police Officer.

“Part nine seeks to establish Community Police forum and Boards in all the States of the Federation to consist of broad representatives of the community and the State to ensure effective, efficient and participatory community policing (Section 59).

“Divisional and State Police Boards are also established (Section 60 and 61 and the objective of such boards are stated (Section 62), to include: Establishing and maintaining a partnership between the community and the Police; Promoting communication between the Police and the community.

“Promoting cooperation between the Police and community in fulfilling the needs of the community regarding policing. The rationale is that property of members of the community, it is ideal to involve the community in policing by engaging them in formal for a and decision making Boards and to provide them the opportunity tom participate in reviewing and revising policing mechanisms in communities.

“Part Xlll establishes a complaint authority with its functions clearly spelt out in Section 78 to include: Receiving complaints against police officers’ misconduct from the public and; Receiving complaints of misconduct against Police Officers from other Police Officers authority.

“Section 79 provides the steps to be taken after investigations, including sending a copy of the Report of their investigations and recommendations to the Director of Public Prosecutions if an offence is disclosed and sending a copy of the Report of Investigations and Recommendations to the appropriate Police authority for preper disciplinary action as per its regulations.

“We cannot envisage any meaningful reforms of the Nigeria Police without first and foremost, reforming the legal infrastructure under which it operates.

“The Bill is therefore that crucial step to reforming the Nigeria Police to make it amenable to the demands and expectations of our independent, democratic country that is an eminent member of an increasingly globalized world and to have a Police that is the product of our democratic experiences and expectations. The Bill is certainly not an absolute panacea to our policing problems but will be a major contribution to addressing it.

“The financial implication of this Bill is no more than what has been appropriated for the Police by the National Assembly. ”

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source: Vanguard