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Reps Move to Reform Nigeria Police, Gbajabiamila Says Operatives Must Work Within the Law

382 views | Akanimo Sampson | March 26, 2021

The Green Chamber of Nigeria’s bicameral Legislature has initiated a legislative move aimed at reforming the Nigeria Police with a view to aborting the repressive activities of the law enforcement agency.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says the House under his watch will bequeath a police service to the citizenry that is civil in its conduct, pointing out, ‘’the House is working assiduously to achieve this goal.’’

According to Gbajabiamila, a trusted police force working within the limits of the law is what Nigerians deserve, and assured Nigerians that the 9th House under his leadership will bequeath such a police force to them.

He was speaking at the National Assembly complex on Thursday during the opening of a public hearing on two bills by the House Committee on Police Affairs. He said the House will meet these expectations as one of the key items on its Legislative Agenda.

One of the two bills is, A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Police Service Commission Act and Enact the Police Service Commission Bill, 2020 to strengthen the Commission to be more Functional in its Operations, and for Related Matters.

The other is A Bill for an Act to Provide for Establishment of the National Institute for Police Studies, to Provide for Administration and Management of the Institute and Determining the Standard of Knowledge and Skills to be Acquired by the Personnel of the Institute, and for Related Matters.

Gbajabiamila said the House made a commitment to give adequate attention to reforms that will be carried out on policing in Nigeria through relevant legislative support.

“Reforming the Nigerian security architecture, with specific emphasis on our policing system and law enforcement, is one of the cardinal commitments of the 9th  House of Representatives. It is a commitment against which our tenure in office will be measured.

“When the time for assessment and judgment comes, we must not be found wanting. The Nigerian people deserve a Police Force that they can trust. They deserve a Police Force that acts within the limits of the law and respects the rule of law.

“We will do everything in our power to meet these expectations”, he said, and further states that aside from statutory reforms, there were other urgent areas of intervention to make the police force function better, including recruitment, training, funding and operational priorities.

Adding, he said, “these issues are the responsibility of the Police Force administration and the executive. Nonetheless, the 9th House of Representatives will be part of those conversations around effecting changes in this regard, and we will do our utmost to ensure that everything that ought to be done is done and done right.”

On the Police Service Commission (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2020, Gbajabiamila specifically explained that it was the first attempt to institute an independent system for holding errant police officers to account for abuses of power and related misconduct in office.

While acknowledging the fact that not all police personnel were bad, describing a “good majority” of them as “upstanding and professional”, he, however, said one rotten egg could ruin the basket, a reason the House stepped in with the reform bill with the aim of weeding out “the few bad eggs in the police force.”

The Speaker told the session that among others, the bill proposed changes to the composition of the Police Service Commission, “reorganising the Commission to be public-facing and able to receive and investigate complaints against police officers” as well as “increasing the minimum requirement for recruitment into the constabulary and allow for the recruitment of more qualified candidates into the Nigeria Police.”

The House Committee Chairman, Usman Kumo, earlier promised a level-playing field for all the stakeholders to make their submissions in a just and fair atmosphere, and called on all presenters to be “God-fearing”, nationalistic, frank and open-minded to assist the committee in producing a report that would meet the expectations of the House and Nigerians in general.

Gbajabiamila urged the stakeholders to seize the opportunity of the public hearing to make objective submissions that would help to restore faith in Nigeria’s security institutions and reassure the people that the government was still capable of protecting their lives and property.

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