By Yusuf Alli, Abuja
The reform of the police in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest is in the works.
Some of the highlights of the plan are:
- To limit the minimum requirement for police enlistment to holders of Ordinary National Diploma (OND). Previously, people with primary school leaving certificate and secondary school certificate holders were recruited into the police.
- Make all new entrants into the police either as Constable or at the Cadet level will undergo compulsory psychology and mental tests.
- Strengthening of the Police Service Commission (PSC) to exercise stringent disciplinary control on erring police officers or men to curb the high rate of brutality.
These highlights are contained in a new legislation being worked out by the National Assembly, the Federal Government and some stakeholders such as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The reforms are part of the Legislative Agenda of the 9th National Assembly and strategic response to avert the reoccurrence of SARS brutality.
It was learnt that a bill may be submitted soon to the National Assembly to reflect the reforms.
A comprehensive reform of the PSC has been floated with the tenure of the chairman and members now a single term of five years.
The PSC will be mandated to raise an Independent Committee to review the conduct of individual officers, and any of the units, departments, and tactical squads of the Police.
The Attorney General of the Federation, the Attorney- General of a State, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and any other body prescribed by law can now prosecute any police officer or man with prima facie case against him or her.
In order to hasten the investigation of misconduct by any policeman, the PSC is expected to have offices in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Preliminary studies showed that most of the policemen involved in maltreatment of Nigerians in the SARS were barely educated.
The document, which was obtained by THE NATION, reads in part: “The Police Service Commission shall provide regulations from time to time, stipulating the procedure for recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigerian Police Academy.
“The Commission shall ensure that those regulations stipulate the following minimum qualifications for recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigerian Police Academy – (a) an Ordinary National Diploma (OND); (b)Nigerian citizen with no records of criminal conviction; (c) Have met medical standard entry requirements (including psychological and mental health requirements). 2. The Commission shall also ensure that the recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigeria Police Academy is in accordance with the provisions on national spread and Federal Character in the Constitution.
“The commission shall regularly assess the remuneration for officers of the Nigeria Police Force, and where a review is required, shall make recommendations for review to the National Police Council.”
In line with modern police trend, the PSC “shall review and recommend updates to the curriculum for training officers of the Nigeria Police Force every three years.”
On the membership of the PSC, the new law stipulates a single term of five years for chairman and members.
But members of the PSC will now include a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal, a retired police officer not below the rank of a Commissioner of Police, the representatives of the National Human Rights Commission; Nigerian Bar Association; ICPC and Civil Society Organisations.
The new regulation reads: “The Chairman and other members of the Commission shall – (a) be appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate (b) be persons of integrity and ability. (2) A member of the Commission shall each hold office for a single term of five (5) years and no more. (3) Members of the Commission shall be paid; salaries and allowances as prescribed by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
According to the new regulation, the Nigeria Police Force will no longer be solely in charge of the disciplinary action against its officers and men.
New disciplinary layers have been put in place to check the excesses of the police.
The regulation reads: “Nigerians are now free to “make a complaint of professional misconduct against any member of the Nigeria Police Force to the nearest state office of the Commission, from where the incident took place and any designated office of the commission.
“The Police Service Commission shall take all reasonable steps to protect the identity of witnesses and protect them from retaliation, victimization or any risk arising from their witness testimony or other evidence provided.
“At the conclusion of investigation of a complaint by a State Office, an independent Investigator or Monitor, a Committee or any other body saddled with investigative responsibility by the Commission, the Commission shall enter a verdict and issue a report detailing one, or a combination of the following disciplinary actions – i. Further training of the officer involved for low-level matters of misconduct; ii. Final written warning where the officer is not a first offender; iii. Temporary suspension without pay; iv. Reduction in Rank; and v. Dismissal from the Nigeria Police Force. Disciplinary Action by the Commission
“The decision of the Commission in respect of an Investigation Report by a State Office, an independent Investigator or Monitor, a Committee or any other body saddled with investigative responsibility by the Commission shall be final.
Finality of commission decisions
“Where an investigation into a complaint against a police officer determines prima facie that a crime may have been committed, the Commission shall refer the case file and investigation report to the appropriate prosecuting body.
“Depending on the nature of the offence, the appropriate prosecuting body my include any of the following – i. Attorney General of the Federation; ii. Attorney General of a State; iii. Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and iv. Any other body prescribed by law.
For fairness, the incoming bill allows the PSC to appoint Independent Review Committee.
It adds” “The Commission may subject to the powers conferred by Section 8(d) of the principal act, appoint an Independent Review Committee to review the conduct of individual officers, and any of the units, departments, and tactical squads of the Nigeria Police Force.
“The Independent Review Committee shall be appointed – (a) for such period, not exceeding twelve (12) months in the first instance; and (b) on such terms as the Commission may determine to be necessary for the execution of the assignment that necessitated the appointment.
“The Independent Review Committee shall upon appointment by the Commission, and relating to the specific reason for the appointment, have the powers to:
- investigate any complaints related to disciplinary or criminal offences committed by any member of the Police, upon referral by the Commission.
- make recommendations to the Commission for prosecution, compensation, internal disciplinary action or any other appropriate relief;
- monitor and investigate policing operations affecting members of the public, upon referral by the Commission;
- conduct inspections of Nigeria Police Force premises, including detention facilities;
- review the patterns of Police misconduct and the functioning of the disciplinary process.
““The Nigerian Police Force, and any officer therewith must provide to the Independent Review Committee such documents, records and any other information as the Committee may reasonably require to achieve the objectives of the appointment. “The Independent Review Committee may make recommendations to the Commission as to – i. any disciplinary actions to the taken by the Commission; and ii. any referrals to prosecutorial agencies.”