By Angela Atabo
Abuja, – Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has called for strict compliance to the Police Act to enhance professionalism and accountability in police operations.
Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma, Executive Director, RULAAC, a Civil Society Organisation, made the call at the National Assessment Performance Meeting of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, on Thursday in Abuja.
Nwanguma said the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, should ensure implementation and compliance with the Act, especially in providing legal assistance to persons detained in police stations.
He also said that the police chief should develop an Annual Policing Plan with an inclusive bottom-top budget that takes into account inputs from the lowest level of the NPF up to the Force Headquarters.
The executive director said the plan should include details of all revenues to the police, its annual budget, spending and audited accounts.
“This is needed to put an end to the secrecy that shrouds police budget and financial processes which are needlessly treated as classified information,” he said.
According to him, the secrecy in police budget and finances contributes to driving inefficiency and corruption in the force.
“Prioritise discipline within the NPF and support public complaints and internal disciplinary mechanisms such as the NPF Complaints Response Unit which are tools for checking misconduct and rooting out impunity in the police.
“Uphold professionalism, exercise caution and avoid issuing directives to police officers in the field which may be interpreted to mean encouragement to commit abuse of human rights,” Nwanguma added.
The CSO called for a commission of inquiry on rise in insecurity and alleged human rights abuses in Imo.
“RULAAC calls on the Governor of Imo, Hope Uzodinma to urgently empanel a credible judicial inquiry into the unprecedented rise in insecurity and human rights atrocities by state and non-state actors.
“Unravel the root causes and actual perpetrators of violent criminal activities in Imo including attacks on police personnel and infrastructure across the state with a view to arresting the actual perpetrators.
“Prosecute them under appropriate laws and recommend measures to end insecurity.’’
According to him, RULAAC is a member of Police Reform Consortium implementing different activities with support from the MacArthur Foundation.
He said that the focus of the consortium was to promote accountability and entrench a rights-respecting policing atmosphere in Nigeria.
He said that RULAAC had established a CSOs observatory on the Implementation of the Police Act, as well as the Police Trust Fund Act (PTF).
According to him, RULAAC and the consortium members have gone round the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria and inaugurated the observatory CSO-PTF Support and Oversight Group.
“The observatory is to act as a catalyst to spur the Police Trust Fund to deliver on its mandate.
“The CSO-PTF Support Groups in the various zones have been engaging in online conversations and carrying out sensitisation to create public awareness across the geo-political zones on the existence of the Police Trust Fund and its mandate.”
Nwanguma said the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) has just six years life span, out of which it has already spent four years.
He therefore said that the Fund should take up its responsibilities more seriously.
Nwanguma listed some of the responsibilities to include making wise investment of the funds, training of police personnel and provision of modern security equipment to improve the skills of policemen.
“This meeting is therefore convened for us to do a joint assessment of the performance and impact of the NPTF, how transparent and accountable it has been in the management of the funds.
“How far it has or has not achieved its objective of improving police funding and effectiveness in the discharge of their duties,’’ Nwanguma added. (NAN)