By Idorenyin Aquaisua
A foremost rights organization in Nigeria, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, has provided a template to assist ongoing efforts to reform the Nigeria Police. This follows onging nationwide protests against the widespread brutality and rights violations by Officers of the recently disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
A release jointly signed by the Akwa Ibom State Branch Chairman of CDHR, Comrade David Ekanem and Secretary, Comrade Idorenyin Aquaisua, describes the “spontaneous creation of the Special Weapons and Tactic (SWAT), to replace the disbanded SARS, setting up of a Presidential Committee on Police reform, and directive by the National Economic Council for state-based requisition panels of enquiry to ascertain cases of rights abuse by the defunct SARS” as the necessary first step in addressing the endemic rot in the Police and advised strongly that “whatever measures adopted to reform the Police must be holistic, comprehensive, strategic, constructive, time-tested and transparent”.
The statement reads in part, “CDHR holds strongly that the manifest rot in Nigeria Police is not restricted to the disbanded SARS alone but the entire Police institution. Therefore, whatever measures adopted to reform the Police must be comprehensive…
“Fundamentally, such measure must address structural flaws and operational deficits that promote perverse policing services.
“Also, reforms must accommodate a comprehensive background security check and integrity audit of officers and personnel to divest the Police of psychopaths, brutes, sadists and elements with criminal mindsets.
“Similarly, reforms must institutionalize innovative administrative systems and proactive operational principles driven by adequate personnel properly remunerated through improved conditions of service.
“More so, reforms must ensure that the Police are sufficiently equipped, technologically driven, and suitably trained to seamlessly and innovatively discharge modern day policing duties.
“Additionally, the proposed reforms must consider that as a regimented organization, a functional way of eradicating unethical practices in the Police including, extra judicial killing, brutality, extortion, rights abuse and other criminalities is to institute operational guidelines that directly place the moral and criminal liability of acts by subordinate officers on their superiors. This will checkmate the endemic corruption and extortion occasioned by unwritten service practice where superiors impose periodically monetary targets on subordinates for postings to strategic beats, duties and assignments.
“Furthermore, to ensure institute best practice standards in the Police, an administrative mechanism should be created to strengthen the Anti-Torture Act 2017 not just to outlaw all forms of torture but prescribe and enforce punishment for police officers who unlawfully kill, indulge in various methods of torture, including hanging, mock execution, beatings, punching, and kicking, burning with cigarettes, water boarding, near-asphyxiation with plastic bags, forcing detainees to assume stressful bodily positions and sexual violence, etc., as well as compensation for victims.”
CDHR acknowledged that the unprecedented support and cooperation enjoyed by the #ENDSARS protests has established the inalienable rights of the people to protest without Police permit, and encouraged the people to build on the gains and successes of this protest by always rising up to reject objectionable practices and anti-people policies and programmes that have enslaved the average citizens and impeded chances of meaningful economic development of our nation.”