Published On: Wed, May 26th, 2021

George Floyd Remembrance : Onuesoke Urges FG To Emulate US On Police Reforms

LAGOS MAY 26TH (NEWSRANGERS)-As Americans marked one year killing of George Floyd, followed with agitations of police reforms, Peoples Democratic Party Chieftain and former Delta State governorship aspirant, Chief Sunny Onuesoke has appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria to emulate US by formulating a Bill for the reform of the activities of the Nigeria police.
The PDP Chieftain who made the appeal yesterday while addressing journalists at Asaba, the Delta State capital recalled that since Floyd’s death, there have been three central proposals to reform the police in Minneapolis, with the firs being proposed creation of a public safety department with the goal of getting it on the ballot during the city’s election in November.
He added that another petition that seeks to create a Civilian Police Accountability Commission led by Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, an organisation formed after Jamar Clark was shot by Minneapolis police in 2015, is also being readied for a vote.
Citing the aforementioned attempts to reform the police in US, Onuesoke pointed out that the reform of Nigeria’s police architecture, particularly the relationship between citizens and security agencies is long overdue, adding that there should be training and retraining of the security agencies on issues of citizen protection, human rights, relations with citizens, and building community trust.
He is of the view that Nigeria can as well follow US similar reformation steps of the police by recommending for prioritization of improved recruitment, professionalization, and accountability mechanisms through merit-based appointment, promotion, and removal processes, as well as improving the working conditions of the police through better pay and benefits.
He lamented that transparency which is an initial step in recommended reforms from previous reports have never been made public despite the 2012 Freedom of Information Act, which has been eclipsed by the Official Secrets Act, adding that this has allowed the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) to continue withholding information that would allow for investigations and the identification of paths to reform.
In attempt to rebuild trust in the police Onuesoke advised that the government needs to do more to earn the trust of Nigerian citizens, stressing that measures put in place by the government to address shortcomings in the policing system, military, and governance must be seen to be sincere.
According to him, “The Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by some states to probe police brutality should be inclusive of critical stakeholders and not only government nominees. It would be more fruitful, moreover, if the Panel serves as a sort of Truth and Reconciliation Body, thus serving the purpose of healing and reconciliation. This could also provide a paradigm shift and foundation for building a “new” relationship between the police and citizens. The police need the people, and the people dearly need the police. Hence the urgent need for community policing.”
Onuesoke maintained that to end police impunity, the government needs to establish an independent body which should include representatives of civil society organizations, with a mandate to consistently investigate and report crimes committed by the police and other security bodies which include extortion, unlawful detentions, corruption, and brutality.
The PDP Bigwig who called for holistic police reform said, “ It is important not to over-generalize. There are many good police officers. Yet good men and women recruited into the police force can easily turn bad due to poor remuneration and overall poor conditions of service. Generally, police in Nigeria face serious challenges such as poor funding, shortage of personnel, dilapidated housing units and offices, poor equipment and vehicles, and lack of maintenance structures. Reform of the police will not be complete without addressing these challenges.”

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