A bill seeking to establish community police forums across the country passed second reading in the senate on Thursday.
The piece of legislation seeks to provide for the framework for the Police Service and ensure cooperation and partnership between the police and communities in maintaining peace and combating crime and insecurity in Nigeria.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Haliru Jika, in his lead debate, explained that the introduction of community police by the bill is a “paradigm shift from the traditional police system to a community-participatory system of policing, uniting ordinary citizens in their respective communities with the police in the prevention, detection and resolving crimes.”
When passed, he said the bill will among other things address the recurrent challenges and deficiencies in structure, appointments, promotions, discipline, postings, training, kitting, weaponry, living condition, pension and retirement benefits.
“The general welfare of our dear gallant officers, within the Nigeria Police Force, have persisted, largely because of the draconian and outdated statutes that guides policing in Nigeria.
“The present Police Act is not only fraught with deficiencies, but strangely, the major organization, duties, and powers of the Nigeria Police Force, as encapsulated in the present Act, have largely remained as set out in the 1943 Police Act.
“It is in recognition of the inherent shortcomings in the extant Police Act and the seemingly intractable challenge of insecurity in our country that has necessitated the proposed repeal of the extant Act and the enactment of a new one in its place, in consonance with the dictates of international best practices and realities of present-day, Nigeria”, Jika said.
The bill also seeks to amend the extant Police Act in respect to the appointment, removal and tenure of the Inspector-General of Police. Jika disclosed that since 1999, Nigeria had 10 Inspector-General of Police, one which made for an average tenure of 2 years in service.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, called for a complete restructuring of the Security Architecture of the Nigeria Police Force, equipping of Police training institutions and training of men and officers of the Police Force.
“This bill should consider the restructuring of the command and structure of the Police. The present structure is not working, the Police Trust Fund is already accruing, the last count I was told there was about N52 billion or so, but it is not about throwing money to the Police.
You need to adjust the structure, otherwise that money will just be a sinking fund.
“So, we should be in a hurry to recruit, to train and retrain. Equipping the police training institutions is supposed to be one vital aspect of getting our security arrangements right, and this is something that we have to do in a hurry, even if it means going for supplementary budget, so be it.
“The kind of situation we are in, with the lives that are lost on a daily basis is something we cannot tolerate, and in fact, we should be on the right side of history,” the Senate President said.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Police Affairs for further legislative work.