We won’t accept police extra judicial killings, harassment, others ― Gbajabiamila
• 350,000 police inadequate for 200m citizens ― Smith
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday, chided Nigeria Police over the recurring cases of extrajudicial killings, harassment, intimidation and other forms of violence unleashed on innocent citizens across the country.
Hon. Gbajabiamila expressed the concern while declaring open, a public hearing on ‘Repositioning of Nigeria Police for an enhanced service delivery’, organised by the House Committee on Police Affairs chaired by Hon. Usman Kumo.
The chairman, Police Service Commission, Musiliu Smith, also observed that 350,000 police officers are inadequate to protect 200 million population across the country.
The Speaker, who bemoaned the recent alleged extrajudicial killing of a footballer by men of the Nigeria Police in Sagamu, Ogun State, said: “It is unfortunate and entirely unacceptable that the relationship between the Police and many of these communities is now defined by fear, mutual antagonism and an absolute loss of faith in the ability of the police to protect and to serve.
“In the last few days, we have all witnessed as the city of Sagamu in Ogun State has been unsettled by an orgy of violence resulting from the extrajudicial killing of a young footballer by officers of the Nigerian Police.
“Citizens who gathered to protest this killing were soon themselves at the receiving end of police bullets. This is not an isolated incident. We are daily inundated with news reports of interactions between citizens and the police resulting in the injury and death of those citizens.
“Reports of police harassment of young people have become so rampant that they barely even break through the news cycle except when public anger becomes so great that it results in a breakdown of law and order.
“We can no longer stand for this, and we will not. This House of Representatives has a responsibility to speak for our citizens and we will continue to do so even when it is inconvenient,” Gbajabiamila said.
He maintained that: “When the public are as afraid of the police as they are of the criminals, and perhaps even more so, the very fundamentals of our nationhood are at stake. We are confronted with an urgent need, deserving of our utmost attention and dedication.
“We must fix the Nigeria Police, restore public confidence and make the institution once more deserving of the true faith and support of the Nigerian people.
“This public hearing has been convened to examine the ways we in the House of Representatives can act to improve the capacity of the Nigerian Police to deliver on its obligations to our people.
“We cannot do that job effectively if we do not first allow for an honest assessment of our current reality. We will not achieve much of substance if we shy away from confronting the failures of recruitment and training, remuneration and welfare, responsibility and accountability that have left us with a national police force that is too often unfit for purpose.”
In his intervention, Minister of Police Affairs, Mr Muhammad Dingyadi, who expressed disgust over the state of the Nigeria Police, observed that the amidst the “multiplicity of security challenges lies the issue of monumental decay in the Nigeria Police Force, arising from years of inadequate attention to this strategic organ of government.
“Apparently, of this phenomenon is not redressed, efforts toward addressing the security menace in the country will not yield much-desired results.”
According to him, the long neglect of Nigeria Police has resulted to poor funding, lack of state of the art facilities and equipment; coupled with low morale arising from lack of motivation, poor remuneration and outdated conditions of service.
In the bid to reposition the Police, Mr Smith harped on the need to strengthen the coordination and supervisory functions of Ministry of Police Affairs, improve funding, increase staff strength, create enabling instrument and stakeholders buy-in for government policies on community policing, the establishment of effective foreign linkages and collaboration.
On his part, Chairman, Police Commission, Mr Musiliu Smith stressed the need to resuscitate the Highway Patrol who will be well-armed to respond to emergencies including combating banditry and other social vices.
While lamenting that various criminal groups who are inflicting terror on the citizenry are equipped with sophisticated weapons, he also underscored the need to provide arms and ammunitions at all the police stations across the country.
Also speaking, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, who gave a vivid account of the ravaging terrorist attacks in the state and North East region, called for the removal of encumbrances inhibiting synergy between Nigeria Police and Nigerian Army for effective service delivery.
Governor Zulum who was represented by the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Mr. Buba Shehu Lawan, specifically called for the amendment to sections 214 and 217 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as well as the Nigeria Police Act and Armed Forces Act.