APPLICANTS hoping the join the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) must from henceforth posses a minimum qualification of the Ordinary National Diploma (OND) or its equivalent as part of new plans to elevate the quality of officers serving in the force.
Over the last month, Nigerian youths have been protesting police brutality and calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (Sars) legendary for its human rights abuses, extortion and extra-judicial killings. In response to the weight of public opinion, the government was forced to scrap the unit and set up judicial panels of enquiries in Nigeria’s 36 states to probe Sars’ abuses.
Among the demands of the protesters were calls for increased professionalism and better training in the NPF as many of its men acted like hoodlums. Now, under a new law being proposed, lawmakers will debate a bill, which will seek to repeal the law establishing the Police Service Commission (PSC) and establish a new one.
Under the proposal, the requirement for an OND would apply to those seeking to join the NPF as constables and others seeking to enlist in the Nigeria Police Academy as cadets. Similarly, the proposed legislation also seeks to expand the membership of the PSC, to accommodate representatives from the Nigeria Bar Association, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, the National Human Rights Commission and civil society organisations.
Additionally, the impending law stipulates that the PSC board must accommodate a Nigerian youth not below the age of 35, a woman with interest in sexual harassment and gender-based violence and a retired police officer not below the rank of a police commissioner. Also, the bill also stipulates that unlike the existing law, the chairman of the PSC should be a serving police officer not above the age of 55 at the time of appointment and not a card-carrying member of any political party, while the board should also include a retired judge of either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal.
It also calls for an elaborate plan to curtail the excesses of police officers and men by stating that all erring NPF officers must be promptly investigated and punished over reported cases of brutality and abuses against Nigerians. Unlike the current PSC law, which gives no time frame for investigating and concluding complaints lodged against offending police officers, the new planned legislation stipulates a maximum period of six months to probe and sanction all erring police officers and men.
To successfully investigate and punish all erring police officers and men, the new law demands that adequate steps must be taken to document the names, ranks, number of erring personnel and the police stations, dates and times where the offending police men and officers committed the offenses. The new legislation also plans to make policemen’s salaries and emoluments to be very attractive so as to attract the best hands into the force and eliminate indolent and criminally-minded elements from the system.