By CHUKS EKE
Given the recent protests across the country by the Nigerian youths against what they identified as police brutality, some legal practitioners have called on the federal government to practically reform the entire Nigerian Police for effective service delivery.
One way of doing so, the said was to decentralize the Police Service Commission, PSC as a regulatory body by establishing the body in the state constituencies in all states of the federation to checkmate the excesses of some over-zealous policemen.
They also called on the federal government to as a mater of utmost urgency, reduce cost of governance and channel the proceeds towards the provision of more employment opportunities for the youths and basic amenities for all Nigerians.
The legal luminaries who spoke from their various law firms at Onitsha included some past chairmen of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Idemili branch, Sylvester N. Eze, Ben Okoko, Maurice Efobi and Samuel Chukwukelu. Others legal practitioners were Ejike Efobi, Anayo Emejue and Chudi Nwokediuko.
They all agreed that the police or other security agencies should not be scrapped because their services were essential to the society but insisted that a lot of reformations were required to enable them attain acceptable global standards.
Barrister Eze who pledged support for the #EndSARS protest initiated by concerned Nigerian youths, expressed the hope that government would listen and address the points raised by the protesters, even as he frowned at the way an manner hoodlums hijacked the protest and embarked on wanton destruction of lives, property and infrastructure.
According to Nwokediuko,”Let the Police Service Commission be established in all the state constituencies in each state of the federation with persons of proven impeccable character as board members to work on part-time basis”.
“When the policemen know that the PSC is located closer to where people can have access to forward their complaints against the erring policemen, the policemen themselves would be cautious anytime they are handling cases because any time the PSC members are sitting, they will be looking into petitions in favour or against policemen with a view to recommending the promotion, demotion or even outright dismissal of erring police men on duty”, said Nwokediuko.
According to Nwokediuko, I also recommend that for the ongoing probing of brutality, panels comprising of security agents from other agencies should probe a particular agency.”DSS or Civil Defence should probe the police and and not the police probing itself because one canno be a judge in his own case”.
Also, Emejue stated:”What is happening is a cumulative reaction of bad governance. Demands of the Youths are constitutional. They want assurance of a better tomorrow with employment, good roads, stable electricity and security, a Nigeria devoid of godfatherism, sectionalism and extra judicial killings by security agents”.
“According to Emejue, “Cost of governance should be reduced to bridge the gap between the Rich and the Poor. There should be enough budget for free education,pensions, procurement of gadgets for containment of civil unrests like rubber bullets, Shields etc instead of use of life ammunition on peaceful protesters”.
Okoko, in his own opinion, lamented that there was failure of intelligence in governance saying that it was high time every state government manages it’s own Police.
“We need State Police. Policemen who know the terrain and will easily be held accountable if they misbehave. There is impunity everywhere, failure of intelligence in governance. Senseless jumbo salaries of legislators is another cause of concern which should be reduced to accommodate others”, said Okoko.
Also, Efobi Maurice said that Federal Government made a mistake by hastily creating SWAT to replace SARS and to deny that there was no shooting or killing of peaceful protesters at Lekki toll gate.
“Nigeria is a failed State. The police or even the President has no right to molest anyone no to talk of killing someone without subjecting that person through a competent court of Justice. Victims of extra judicial killings should publicly and transparently be prosecuted to win mind of the masses”, said Efobi.
Similarly, Ejike Efobi said that the police reduced themselves to debt collectors and thugs to maltreat people who were supposed to be the friends of the police in fighting crime and criminality in the society.
“According to Ejike, “I weep for Nigeria. It is only in this country that a whole community including its President General who retired at peak of his Civil service career would be labeled armed robbers. SARS is the extreme rot in the Nigerian Police. At High court 1 Onitsha manned by Justice Nweze, there is a dossier containing the ‘Extremes of SARS’. There is need for true and thorough police reformation”.