The Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre on Friday commended President Muhammadu Buhari for assenting to the Police Bill, 2020, saying the development signifies a huge commitment to the reform of Nigeria’s policing system that was long overdue.
Clement Nwankwo, the Executive Director of PLAC, gave the commendation in a statement in Abuja.
Nwankwo noted that the new Act seeks to provide for a more efficient and effective police service that is based on the principles of accountability, transparency, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and partnership with other security agencies.
He said: “It also seeks to bring about a modern Police that is responsive to the security needs of Nigeria citizens at all levels.
“The colonial 1943 Police Act regulated the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) for 77 years and was no longer fit for purpose.
“The effort to review the Police Act has been a long and arduous one, starting as far back as 2004, with slow progress being made over the years.
“Between 2002 and 2012 several Police Reform panels comprising experts, were set up to develop recommendations on improved policing in Nigeria.
“The current initiative which culminated in the National Assembly passing the Police Bill in July 2020 is the first time ever, that a comprehensive legislative review of the Police Act has been undertaken since its original enactment in 1943.”
According to Nwankwo, the amendment of this law followed from the investment of enormous resources, time and energy by civil society working together with multiple stakeholders such as the Police leadership, Ministry of Police Affairs, media and development partners.
He said: “With new provisions complementing the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, codifying the Police Complaints Response Unit, providing for mandatory training of officers, activation of the Police Reward Fund, and promoting set up of community policing structures nationwide among others, the bill is expected to go a long way towards promoting professional, responsive and accountable policing.
“Other improvements include improved checks on use of police powers and human rights safeguards.
“With the new Act mandating a regular review of the accompanying 1968 Police Regulations, it is expected that there will be a consequential review of the Regulations which provides guidelines on the more detailed aspects of policing.”