By Salim Yunusa
President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to leave behind a citizen-led policing system to the nation at the end of his eight-year tenure in 2023.
He stated that his administration has demonstrated firm commitment towards changing the principle and strategy of policing.
He mandated the Ministry of Police Affairs to receive complaints from the public on cases of abuse and maltreatment by police personnel.
The president, according to a statement yesterday by his media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, spoke in his address at the passing out parade of 418 officers of the 3rd Regular Cadet Course at the Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil in Kano.
Buhari added that he has directed the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to review upward police emoluments.
He said the new pay structure would be commensurate with the vital functions of the police performed as the lead agency in internal security operations.
In the speech delivered on his behalf by the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Maigari Dingyadi, the president said a citizen-led policing system informed the approval for the adoption of community policing as the internal security strategy of the country, and the approval of funds to support the implementation process.
The president said that the police reform initiative, embarked upon by his administration had focused on improving the welfare of the force, recruitment of 10,000 junior police officers annually, investing in the upgrade of facilities at the Nigeria Police Academy and other police training institutions, among others.
He added that a Nigeria Police Academy (Establishment) Bill is currently receiving legislative attention at the National Assembly.
Buhari said on passage, the bill would give legal backing to the existence and academic programmes of the Nigeria Police Academy and legitimise its status as a police university.
Buhari added that as part of his administration’s police reform initiatives, the Police Public Complaint Committee, which is domiciled in the Ministry of Police Affairs has been resuscitated with the mandate to receive complaints from the public on cases of abuse and maltreatment by police personnel.
Membership of the PPCC, he said, comprised officials from MDAs and security agencies.
He added that a public-private partnership arrangement undertaken by the Ministry of Police Affairs to rejuvenate the national public security communication system network has been approved by the Federal Executive Council.
”This is with a view to ensuring that when fully reactivated, the police and other security agencies will be able to fully utilise this vital facility,” he said.
The address highlighted ”well-thought-out reform programmes” by the federal government to modernise and reposition the police to meet the aspirations of the citizens, as well as to manage current and evolving threats in the most efficient and professional manner.”
The president said his administration re-established the Ministry of Police Affairs out of the former Ministry of Interior in 2019 with the intention to drive the police reform process by initiating, formulating and implementing policies and programmes relating to policing and internal security.
”This initiative was also intended to provide supervision and administrative support to the force, particularly, in the area of training and capacity development as well as the enhancement of the budgetary profile of the Nigeria Police.
”In order to address the funding challenges of the force, I also assented to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Bill on 24th June 2019 and followed up with the inauguration of the board of trustees to ensure the immediate take-off of the fund,” he said.
He stated that he was being constantly briefed on the activities of the trust fund and he was delighted to note that already, critical operational items including purpose-built operational vehicles and other policing assets are currently being delivered through its intervention.
”I am confident that with the sustained intervention of the trust fund, the operational efficiency and human capacity development goals of Nigeria Police will be attained on a sustainable basis and by extension, our internal security order will be enhanced in due course,” he said.
Buhari said on September 15, 2020, he assented to the Nigeria Police Bill, which had been under legislative actions since 2014.
According to him, the Act replaces the repealed Nigeria Police Act that had been in existence for over 77 years, and which had become an archaic legal instrument and a fundamental clog in the wheels of modern policing.
He added that the new Nigeria Police Act contains fundamental provisions, which are positively altering the policing in Nigeria as it has given legal backing to the principle of community policing and addressed vital issues that have historically been inhibiting police administration.
”With the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the nation has been given a unique legal instrument that will modernise police operations and position Nigeria Police towards the attainment of its 21st century policing mandate,’’ he said.
The president charged the young officers that the task of advancing major police responsibilities will in due course fall on their shoulders.
”The federal government and the citizens of this nation demand of you the assurances that in this task of national service, you shall not let yourselves, families, the Nigeria Police Force and the nation down,” he stated.