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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Police Reform: CLEEN Foundation holds advocacy on Police Regulation, Validation Workshop

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Leading Civil Society Organisation, CLEEN Foundation, has organised a Police Reform Forum on Police Regulation and Validation Workshop. The event which was held in Abuja, Nigeria attracted participants from different CSOs and stakeholders.

Gad Peter, the Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, who declared the workshop opened, stressed that validation and implementation of Police Regulation would be significant for Nigeria’s future.

Gad noted that by ensuring that Nigerian law enforcement agencies operate within a transparent, accountable, and human rights-centric framework, citizens not only safeguard the rights and dignity of Nigerians but also enhance public trust and confidence in the nation’s institutions.

“As representatives of civil society organizations, advocacy groups, and concerned citizens, we have convened here with a shared commitment to advancing the cause of police reform in Nigeria. The validation and implementation of the Nigeria Police Regulation hold immense significance for our nation’s future.

“By ensuring that our law enforcement agencies operate within a transparent, accountable, and human rights-centric framework, we not only safeguard the rights and dignity of our citizens but also enhance public trust and confidence in our institutions”.

He appreciated other notable organisations in attendance and expressed confidence that with collaborative efforts, just and equitable society would be achieved.

He said “I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Foreign and Common Wealth Office (FCDO) and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) for your unwavering dedication and passion for social justice. Your presence here today is a testament to your commitment to making a difference, and I am confident that, together, we will achieve our shared vision of a more just and equitable society”.

Dr. Chiemezie Atama, Executive Director, Equity Watch Initiative (E-WIN), presented the advocacy brief on Police Regulations at the end of the CSO Police Reforum Forum: Advocacy on Review of Police Regulation and Validation workshop. She highlighted some recommendations for considerations.

See full text of the advocacy brief in full:

ADVOCACY BRIEF ON POLICE REGULATIONS

 Introduction

The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is the lead security agency responsible for prevention and detection of crimes, and protection of rights and freedom of persons in Nigeria as provided by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and other relevant international, regional and national laws. The NPF was established by Section 214 of the Constitution with the mandate to ensure the internal security of the country which makes it the most proximate to crimes, criminals, and victims. As such, the agency remains very critical to maintaining public safety, law and order, protection of lives and property of all persons in Nigeria, and enforcement of all laws and regulations without any prejudice to the enabling Acts of other security agencies. Nigeria, like many countries, relies heavily on its police force to maintain law and order, protect citizens, and uphold justice. However, over the years, there have been numerous reports of police brutality, extrajudicial killings, extortion, and other forms of misconduct. These incidents not only undermine public trust in law enforcement but also violate the fundamental rights of citizens. The effectiveness and integrity of the Nigerian police force have been called into question due to various instances of misconduct, abuse of power, gender discrimination, and corruption. To address these issues and ensure the safety and security of all citizens, it is imperative to advocate for robust police regulations in Nigeria. Regulations can outline clear guidelines for appropriate use of force, interrogation techniques, mainstreaming gender into the NPF, and detention procedures, thereby reducing instances of abuse and misconduct and creating a safer society. This advocacy brief highlights key areas for consideration in the new police regulations toward repositioning the police to be more responsive to the needs of the general public in line with its mandate as articulated in the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.

Areas for Consideration

Following the end of CSO Police Reforum Forum: Advocacy on Review of Police Regulation and Validation workshop, the areas below are recommended for consideration:

  1. Establishment of Preventive Policing Unit

Under the organization of Police Headquarters in the draft regulation, the Civil Society Organization is advocating for a paradigm shift in policing strategy from enforcement to preventive approach. We urge the IGP to establish the PREVENTIVE POLICING UNIT within the Office of the Inspector General of Police. The unit will be driven by Police Campaign Against Cultism and Other Vices (POCACOV) which shall utilize the PREVENT approach, a non-kinetic approach in reducing crime in the country. This is to easily expand the good approach of non-kinetic policing with POCACOV and PREVENT policing approach to prevent the citizens from going into crime and promote attitudinal change among Police Officers.

  1. Gender

It is imperative to make provisions on gender mainstreaming in the NPF as the male and female body are different and play different natural roles that require special considerations in the discharge of duties as police personnel. The gender provisions in the current police regulations are discriminatory against women in many areas (including recruitment, training, duties and posting, marriage, language, and dressing) and should be reviewed from the lens of gender equity to give female personnel in the Nigeria Police Force opportunity within the police institutions. Integrating a gender perspective is expected of the NPF not only by virtue of national legal obligation but also for a more effective and equitable policing, safer communities, and stronger rule of law. Specific areas include:

  • Female Police Officers – miscellaneous conditions of service (Sections 96 to 99).
  1. The heading of Section 97 “No special privileges to married female police officers” should read “Special privileges to married female police officers”. The “No” should be taken out as it’s misleading.
  2. Section 98 provided for maternity leave for female police officers. Paternity leave should also be provided for male police officers. Hence, Section 98 should read “ A female police officer is entitled to maternity leave and a male police officer is entitled to paternity leave”.
  3. Section 99 which prohibits female police officers from wearing powder or lipstick, coloured nail varnish, and jewellery, as well as from dressing their hair in such fashion that it falls over the uniform collar should be expunged.
  4. A new section to mandate the police management at all levels of decision making (Force Headquarters, Zonal command, state command, Area command, Division) to ensure that the most three senior female police officers are represented in the management decision making meetings. The most senior three female police officers are members of the Force management team.
  5. All discriminatory provisions based on gender be removed as addressed in the Nigeria Police Gender Policy.The new regulation should therefore review discriminatory practices within the police regulations such as:
  • The requirement of marriage before enlistment for female officers should be expunged,
  • Women seeking permission to marry should apply to male and female.
  • Dismissal of unmarried pregnant officers from the force should be expunged, and
  • The duties of police officers should not be based on gender however perculiarities of women should always be considered.
  • Barrack accommodation for married women and their spouse should be provided.
  1. Gender sensitive language should be used in framing the police regulations:

Language used in the existing police regulations still exhibit gender insensitivity that should be corrected. In many sections of the new draft police regulations (e.g. S8, 9 & many sections in Part IV) for example, Police Officers across ranks are still addressed as ‘he’ rather than ‘he or she’ or he/she. This language style may create the impression that only male officers can be IGP, CPs, or even Area Commanders and DPOs. Not only does it underplay the presence of women in the NPF but clearly exhibits bias in favour of men and give a picture of a masculine police institution. Therefore, wherever ‘he’ appears in the regulations should be corrected to ‘he or she’ OR ‘he/she’.

  1. Decentralize the Gender Unit across police divisions and stations for effective operational responses to issues of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, domestic violence, and the protection of women and children toward becoming more responsive to the needs of the diverse public it serves.
  2. Recruitment
  • Harmonize the Provisions on Enlistment of Rank and File (S.54) with those on Enlistment of Female Police (S.94) to address any gender discrimination.
  • Harmonize provisions on enlistment procedure (S. 58 – S63) with enlistment of female police S.94 & S. 95) to avoid any gender connotation while ensuring sensitivity to gender differences.
  • To address the big problem of underrepresentation of women in the NPF and improve female representation towards a more inclusive police service, emphasis at recruitment should be on equity rather than equality in the number of female and male recruits. In this regard and in line with a major policy objective of the National Gender Policy for the NPF which is to reduce the current gender gap in the NPF, and make the NPF an equal opportunity employer, at least 35% of the recruitment slots should be assigned for females in all recruitment exercises in the NPF.
  1. Training
  • Interrogation techniques, intelligence-led policing, problem-oriented policing, and crime prevention strategies should be part of the police training content in order to enhance their tactical and operational efficiency and effectiveness in line with the expectations by the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
  • Gender should be mainstreamed into the Police Training courses from the Recruit constables to the most Senior Officers. This could entail reviewing regulation 40 to include courses on gender relations, gender equality, and femininity and masculinity in the list of training courses.
  • The use of technology to prevent, detect, and solve the crime problem should be mainstreamed into the police regulations. In this regard, courses on cybercrime prevention, transnational organised crime, forensic investigation and the use of science and technology in general for crime prevention and control should be offerred at the appropriate Police Training Colleges.
  1. Posting and Duties
  • Police officers regardless of gender should be deployed to duties that commensurate with their skills and areas of competence to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. There should be statutory provision to ensure that duties relating to women and children which female police officers are more likely to be assigned to do not become undesirable units/sections to work in, or under-recognized and/or under rewarded. Powerful incentives including promotions, visibility, public approval and psychosocial support should be provided to personnel working in this demanding area to incentivize them and promote gender inclusivity
  1. Promotion
  • Police officers should be promoted to the next rank on a regular basis provided they consistently score good in annual performance assessment during the minimum years required on a rank to motivate the personnel for better function performance.
  • Personal commitment to gender equality principles should be included in the requirements for promotions for police officers in order to enhance gender relations within the NPF. Officers that exhibited strong commitment to gender equality should be rewarded and such commitment should be considered an indispensable complement to wider institutional commitment in promotion decisions. Thus, annual performance measures should record staff commitment to gender equality principles.
  1. Human Rights

The Police should ensure continuous training and retraining of her personnel on the provisions of fundamental human rights and gender mainstreaming during policing operations. Most importantly, the rights of the personnel must be protected.

  1. Accountability
  2. The police personnel deployed to any official assignment must wear body cameras that relay actions in the field to the Police C4i, Complaints Response Unit (CRU) and the Police Service Commission Compliance Monitoring Unit (CMU). This will give account of the officers conduct and save the officer from allegations against unprofessional conduct while on assignment. A new section is proposed as follows: “Any police officer on official assignment shall wear and put on the body camera, failure to do so will attract severe disciplinary action against the police personnel”.
  3. A new section to provide police personnel with body cameras should be included. “The Nigeria Police should provide police personnel with body cameras”.
  4. Funds provided for the Nigeria Police Force should be adequately accounted for including the Police internally generated revenue and the Police Trust Funds..
  5. Investigation and prosecution

The Nigeria Police Force regulation should comply with the provisions of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 procedure on arrest. Investigations must be completed before arrest of suspects for easy prosecution of suspects. This is to save the Police the risk of detaining innocent suspects beyond the time permissible in the ACJA 2015.

  1. Welfare of the police The Nigeria Police Force regulations should provide guidance on ensuring improved welfare for all serving and retired police officers. This should cover issues of improved access to healthcare services, improvement in housing conditions, provision of adequate uniform and kits for serving officers, and compensation packages for police officers who sustain injury or died in the line of duty. Given the high risks and hazards associated with police duties, the regulation should specify ways to improve the compensation packages in the NPF which should cover the following:
  • Regular promotion of deserving police personnel
  • Regular review and improvement on remuneration and compensation packages in line with inflationary trends.
  • Direct compensation to deserving police officers without involving a third party or a senior officer to ensure packages get to the target beneficiaries.
  • Training of children of police officers that died in the line of duty from primary to tertiary educational level and offering substantial financial support to the family toward the sustainability of their welfare.
  • Provision of job opportunity to the family of police officers that died in the line of duty.
  • There should be speedy payment of pension and gratuity to retired police officers.
  • The work environment should have facilities that support women and child care toward a more gender responsive police service.
  • There should be adequate sensitization of newly recruited police officers on ways to access affordable healthcare such as the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
  • There should be periodic maintenance and constant improvement in the housing condition at the police barracks and building of new barracks in response to expansion in the size of the NPF.

Conclusion

The Civil Society applauds the Nigeria Police Force, the Police Service Commission, Ministry of Police Affairs and the Ministry of Justice for their commitment to the review of the Police Regulations and calls on the IGP to ensure its completion as soon as possible as a landmark achievement of his administration. CLEEN Foundation specially recognizes the efforts of development partners, the UNDP and FCDO in the process and calls on the Civil Society Organizations to remain vigilant in ensuring that Nigerians’ rights are not violated in the process of policing the country.

 

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