The Federal Government has enough resources kept in the newly established Police Trust Fund to equip police personnel for optimum performance, Nigeria’s leading rights coalition said in a statement on Wednesday.
The group tasked the Federal Government to ensure judicious use of the fund meant for the operatives.
ASCAB in the statement said the newly opened fund is repository to billions of naira which should be disbursed to equip the police with critical infrastructure like crowd control equipment and personnel gadgets
ASCAB in the statement signed by its Chairman, Femi Falana, (SAN) recalls that the newly passed Police Act empowers the government to pay 0.5 per cent of total revenue generated in the country to the newly opened PTF account which also includes payment of 0.005 per cent of net profit by all companies operating in Nigeria.
The group said the Nigerian Police Force does not have enough water cannon beyond a few ones in Abuja. It said the equipment costs between N18 million and N50million which every state of the federation can afford.
ASCAB said instead of kitting police personnel and buying water cannons, authorities have been buying Armoured Personnel Carriers that are hardly used but stationed at State Houses as empty psychological threats.
ASCAB said for effective performance, every policeman and officer needs life saving equipment like handcuff, radios, baton, hand-held protection devices such as pepper spray, window punch, gloves, flashlights, ammunition, taser, batteries, first medical aid, material pens, pencils, keys and multi-tool.
ASCAB said the equipment are sometimes more effective and prevent the operatives’ temptation of using life ammunition at the slightest provocation on the civilian population.
The group said the fund should insure every police men and women against death and bodily injury, saying that its struggle for a better Nigeria takes into consideration the travails of police officers who are also victims of a system short change.
“ASCAB urges the Nigeria Police Force to judiciously use the funds available to maintain public order in the most legal, legitimate ways that employ life saving measures. This involves deploying water cannon instead of guns in crowd control. It also involves personnel kitting with gadgets that will prevent police officers from savage attacks from criminals.”
ASCAB said in the Second Republic, the police procured water cannon mounted on trucks to deal effectively with the challenge of internal security throughout the country.
“In particular, the Nigeria Police Force acquired crowd control equipment to disperse tumultuous crowd and reduce killing of people and destruction of properties during riots. But upon the overthrow of the Shehu Shagari administration on December 31, 1983, the ruling military junta confiscated the equipment which had been acquired by the Nigeria Police Force. Since then, successive military and civilian regimes have refused to equip and fund the Nigeria Police Force.”
ASCAB recalled that in order to ensure adequate funding for the police, the National Assembly passed the Police Trust Fund Bill into law last year, adding that shortly thereafter, the Police Trust Fund Bill was signed into law by President Mohammadu Buhari.
“Under the Act, 0.5% of the monies accruing to the Federation Account shall be contributed to the Police Trust Fund. Also, companies operating in Nigeria are required to pay a levy of 0.005% of net profits. Yet, any investment income generated from the fund is exempt from income tax.”
ASCAB said from the information at its disposal, a dedicated bank account known as the “Nigeria Police Trust Fund Account” has been opened for receipts and payments while the deduction of the 0.5% from the Federation Account stipulated by the Act commenced since last year.
The group said despite such deductions, there has been no noticeable improvement in the funding of the Nigeria Police Force.
ASCAB said it had established that the inability of all police formations in the country to control crowd in the urban areas had led to the loss of many police personnel.
“In the absence of crowd control equipment to disperse protesters and rioters and ensure public safety personnel whose lives are endangered, are compelled to use lethal weapons. In the process, many people have been killed while police stations have been burnt by criminal elements. Recently, policemen and women had to run for their lives during protests by commercial motorcycle riders in some parts of Lagos State,” ASCAB said.
ASCAB said in order to stop further exposing the lives of police personnel and members of the public to avoidable danger, the authorities should equip all police formations in the country with canisters of teargas, water cannon and rubber bullets as well as other equipment for proper policing of the country.