THE House of Representatives, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will collaborate on a proposed law to reform the police, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said on Wednesday.
The speaker met with the leadership of the NBA led by its President, Olumide Akpata and the NHRC led by the Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu.
Gbajabiamila said:”I want to use this opportunity to congratulate Nigerians out there, who have been part of this struggle, and I want to appeal at the same time that we should apply the brake, perhaps, a little and see what will be done.
“In the House, before the protest, we made a statement, I made a statement on the floor of the House. We made far-reaching resolutions. We’ve been very proactive on this issue. We’re determined to pursue the resolutions of the House forcefully, for want of a better word.
“Our resolutions included that we discovered section 215 (5) almost gives absolute immunity to the police over what they do. So, for a start, we feel we should begin with amending the constitution and delete that offensive section.
“I believe it was well-intended but now it’s obnoxious. From that, we can raise any other reforms to look at the complaints from the public, from the NBA, the civil societies etc.
“We’re waiting for the IGP to send us the list of policemen that had complaints against them in the last five years. We’re also waiting for the list of the victims so that they can be compensated. We’re beginning the budget process, and we want to make sure that there’s a line item that ensures they’re compensated.
“The resolutions also talked about police reform. We already passed the Police Reform Act, but we need to do more. We need to look at the conditions of service, etc.
“Suffice it to say that this House is determined to bring this to fruition. We gave ourselves 30 days to come up with a piece of legislation. We’re working assiduously to achieve the timeline we set for ourselves.
“I think you should identify the stations where people are being held. I will be more than happy to set up a crack team of members to go with you and pursue vigorously those issues. This should be part of the collaboration. We’ll expect your response on this.”
Akpata assured that his association would collaborate with the House.
“We at the NBA are resolute to collaborate with you on the issues. In fairness to the government, some concession has been made. The NBA has a mandate to protect the rights of the people,” he said.
Ojukwu said in 2018 the commission investigated the police, adding that those found guilty during that investigation would soon be prosecuted.
He also said that there was the need to look into the funding of the police, especially at the divisional and zonal levels, adding that money budgeted for their operations hardly get to them for their operations.
He said: “I personally reported case to the police and had to provide the money needed for the investigation. That is how bad the situation is down there. When I told them who I was, they told me that they don’t have the money for investigations.”