The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) as an organization dedicated to the pursuit of peace, order and conflict resolution in societies around the world welcomes the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) arising from the public consensus driven by the youths of Nigeria against said unit on claims of its notoriety for extortion, abduction and outright murder. We fully support all calls for policing reforms leading to an end to police brutality through torture and intimidation, and also the violation of the human rights of the citizens of Nigeria especially its young and thriving populace. We condemn all acts of extra-judicial killings, unlawful profiling, illegal raids and the frequent victimisation of hard-working Nigerian youths by some errant members of the Nigeria Police Force.
As a peace and conflict resolution oriented organisation, we have always supported peaceful means to cause change or challenge a predatory status quo, and will continually lend our voice, wits and advice to the public and constituted authority on conflict mediation, reconciliation and resolution. Whilst we respect the need for vibrant policing, we have always stood against predatory policing and the practice of ‘qualified immunity’ which shields bad cops from prosecution for extra-judicial actions. We’ve relentlessly advocated against the entrenchment of negative stereotypes against the young population of Nigeria as we see youths as critical agents of peace and partners in the maintenance of order in any given society
We believe that peaceful protest is a form of advocacy and its exercise falls within the constitutionally guaranteed rights of every Nigerian citizen to the dignity of life, liberty of assembly, and freedom of association and movement. We therefore condemn the killing of one Mssr. Jimoh Isiaq and ten others in Ogbomosho, Lagos and Abuja as a threat to constitutional rights, a reproach on policing propriety and an indictment on failure to protect the lives of the people. The excessiveness of force and other unprofessional conducts of some officers of the Nigeria Police Force not only contravenes municipal laws but violates several international conventions and treatises, including the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2250, 2419, and 2535 which, read severally and as a whole, demand the protection of young men and women by all UN member states.
Having acknowledged the acquiescence of the Inspector-General of Police of Nigeria to the public demand to disband SARS, we insist that a lot more could and should be done to win over public goodwill and trust for the police, and measures put in place to end with a finality all enabling system of police brutality and misconduct. We therefore call on the Nigerian Government including the Executive, the Legislature, the judiciary as well as all relevant stakeholders, to urgently consider the following observations and recommendations for action:
In the course of our mandate and preceding the public demand for the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as a symbolic lamentation against police brutality, the United Global Resolve for Peace had course to intervene by advocacy in a matter between two state institutions namely the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
Our finding(s) were that the Police Service Commission (PSC), set up by statutory mandate to recruit, promote and sanction officers of the Police Force with the exception of the Inspector-General of Police had become redundant and effete whilst under-performing its critical role as an oversight body over the Nigeria Police Force. We observed that most past, and the present chairman, of the PSC were drawn from the ranks of the Police Force, specifically, retired Inspector-Generals of Police had become the go-to personnel for chairmanship of the PSC therefore creating a structural problem in partisan oversight functions within the Commission.
We further observed that budgetary and financial constraints starved the PSC of requisite infrastructural materials and the human capacity to carry out its disciplinary mandate against the NPF. Other notable challenges surfaced in the duplicity or usurpation of functions that saw the Nigeria Police Force undertake the Commission’s power to recruit and sanction erring Police Officers done, all without relevant legal instruments. This particular conflict in power and function became the subject matter of a lawsuit, PSC v. the NPF which was recently decided in favour of the Commission at the Court of Appeal.
We therefore recommend as follows in view of the observations and other ancillary matters discussed above, THAT:
- Public trust has been eroded in the Nigeria Police Force, and the priority of the NPF must be the restoration of same through transparent policing, psycho-social training, thorough screening and vetting of police officers and the identification and prosecution of all cops fingered in disciplinary complaints from the public.
- Immediate action must be taken to curtail unlawful stop and search patrols, illegal raids and other extra-judicial matters incidental thereto.On the Police Service Commission, being the oversight body by constitutional law and an enactment of the National Assembly over the Nigeria Police Force, that the Commission must receive the full backing of government to function optimally and independently.
- The convention of appointing retired Inspector-Generals of Police to oversee the PSC as its Chairman raises more problems than it solves any. This tradition must be discontinued as the Commission must be run independently of personnel with police service history to avoid bias and prejudice in the discharge of the function of the Commission.
- UGRFP recommends that retired jurists, justices, judges or avowed security and human rights experts should henceforth serve as Chairmen of the Police Service Commission to forestall any conflict of loyalty and function or any resemblance of same, within the Police Service Commission. The PSC Act is clear that only neutral persons can and should serve as chairman of the Commission, a provision that is starkly negated by the appointment of a former policeman to oversee a Commission saddled with the discipline of policemen- retired or serving.
- The Police Service Commission must enjoy adequate staffing and budgetary provisions to better serve the public. As such, its budgets and finances must be independent in input and reflect the need to situate the Commission strategically across the 36 states of the Federation for ease of reach and access.
- The PSC Act is ripe for legislative intervention and must be amended to reflect current exigencies on the practicality of its functions and purpose, and also with a view to strengthen the Commission to function better.
- There is an urgent need to mainstream youths and civil society organisations into the Nigeria policing system through a strategic stakeholders forum to protect against the public, especially the youths, become scapegoats of future security arrangements.
It is pertinent to note that self-regulation, in this context the regulation of the police by the police, is a form of corruption, an anomaly and an institutional aberration. The rights abuses of member of the public by bad cops would not stop in of itself with the disbandment of SARS, the creation of a new unit or even with a change in hierarchy of the Nigeria Police Force.
Until the Nigeria Police Force become answerable to the oversight function of the Police Service Commission all or most gains in the momentum of the #ENDSARS protest would be lost in due course thus setting the country back again in its policing methods and habits. This is why consolidation in the power and functionality of the Police Service Commission must be undertaken and established.
The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) will continue to lend itself to all processes for the reformation of the entire police system in Nigeria, and must once again commend young Nigerians who took it upon themselves to peacefully draw attention to matters long in the tunnel of advocacy in the civil society space. We have much faith in our young population as agents of peace and stability, and our believe in their rights and freedom within a nation in order remain a mission statement of the United Global Resolve for Peace.