The Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) and its over 20 partners have launched the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)-Police Trust Fund (PTF) Support and Oversight Group.
The observatory group, it is understood, was set up to address issues tied to the Police Act 2020 and the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) Act 2019.
Development Diaries had reported concerns raised by a group of CSOs, including RULAAC, about the non-implementation of the PTF Act.
The PTF was created to manage and control a special intervention fund for training and retraining of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force.
Many Nigerians have linked the endless extortion, corruption, and the viciousness of policemen to poor remuneration, training, and welfare.
RULAAC, supported by MacArthur Foundation, is a member of a consortium implementing different activities under a police reform project.
Other members of the consortium are CLEEN Foundation (the consortium lead), NOPRIN, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and the Rule of Law Unit in the office of the Vice President of Nigeria.
The inauguration of the aforementioned group in Abuja, the first in a series of such zonal launches, also featured the inception meeting and capacity-building for CSOs in the northcentral zone of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The event was attended by over 30 participants drawn from CSOs and the media, as well as representatives of the management of the PTF, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Police Service Commission.
It was learnt that the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Police Affairs and the Nigeria Police Force, who were also invited to the ceremony, did not show up.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma, said that the police reform project aims to promote police accountability and police reform in Nigeria.
‘Primarily, this project is designed to address the persistent problem of police brutality and human rights violations through a coordinated effort of civil society organisations carefully selected for the task’, he said.
‘Globally, police institutions have come under scrutiny and concerns about the delivery of their mandate, especially on the issue of extrajudicial killings and the use of force beyond permissible levels by officers across the globe’.
In Nigeria, protests, with hashtag #EndSARS, were triggered by the killing of a young man by operatives of a police unit in October 2020. The protests were largely peaceful until the shooting of unarmed protesters in Lekki, Lagos.
‘These protests were precipitated by years of bottled-up anger by citizens over police high-handedness, extortion, professional misconduct by operatives of the FSARS unit, and the general police culture of incivility that has characterized the operations of Nigeria Police Force’, Nwanguma said.
To address these concerns in Nigeria, Nwanguma revealed that the consortium proposed a series of actions that aim to facilitate communication on policy formulation and police reform agenda in the country.
He hinted that the CSO-PTF support and oversight group will drive a vigorous and sustained public awareness campaign across the six geo-political zones on the purpose and existence of the Police Act and the PTF Act.
The Acting Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Ruth Olofin, in her remark, said, ‘CSOs must plan and implement programmes designed to train and sensitise citizens on their rights. The media and stakeholders should contribute in strengthening the reform process’.
A Commissioner with the Police Service Commission (PSC), Rommy Mom, who represented the Chairman of the commission, Musiliu Smith, noted that Nigeria’s problem was not lack of laws but lack of judicious, efficient and effective implementation of laws.
He commended RULAAC and its partners for setting up the group, adding that it complements the mandate of the PSC.
‘The observatory group should not be just another CSO initiative that will wind up after a year or two. Members should know how they drive home policing that takes into account human rights, that does not treat citizens as objects to be taken advantage of’, the PSC chairman said.
‘The bane of the police is funding which PTF largely takes care of. If monies are not misappropriated but judiciously used, then the police will be better funded for effective performance and Nigeria and her citizens will live safer’, he added.
The group is expected to act as a catalyst to spur the PTF to deliver on its mandate as well as carry out sensitisation to create public awareness across the geo-political zones on the existence of the Police Act and the PTF Act and their mandates.
Photo source: Global Panorama