Friday, 3 May 2013

Communiqué: Executive Forum On Policing Issues Communiqué




Introduction:
The 7thPolicing Executive Forum was held in Bolton White Hotels & Apartments, Abuja, on the 30th of April 2013 with the theme: “External Accountability and the Police Service Commission”. The forum focused on fashioning ways to improve the civilian oversight function of the Police Service Commission in relation to police service provision. The forum was organised by the CLEEN Foundation, an NGO involved in the promotion of public safety and security.  Participants were drawn from the Ministry of Police Affairs, the PSC and civil society groups from across the country, including the Association of Retired Police Officers of Nigeria. Under the Chairmanship of Mr Fola Arthur Worrey of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, the participants deliberated on issues relating to efficiency, and integrity in the police service. Papers were presented by a renowned criminologist and Chair of the Board of CLEEN Foundation, Professor Etannibi  Alemika, and civil rights lawyer and activist, Mr Bamidele  Aturu, as well as a former Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Chief Simeon Okeke. The Chairman of the House Committee on Police Affairs, Hon. Usman Bello Kumo, represented by Obadiah Mbila, also made contributions to the deliberations. These led to very insightful discussions.

Observations:
At the end of the deliberations, the participants in the Policing Executive Forum made a number of observations.

1.    The Police Service Commission was established in 2001 after an 18-year military hiatus.
2.    The Police Service Commission declares commendation for its achievements, in view of the 18-year military hiatus.
3.    The PSC has developed guidelines for appointment, promotion and discipline in the Nigeria Police.
4.    Though the Police Service Commission is charged with appointment, promotion and discipline in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the forum observes that there is a general problem of tension in the implementation of its powers, vis-à-vis the police authorities as the independence of the Commission is yet to be recognized. For example, in issues of recruitment and discipline, there is still need for harmonization of approaches between the PSC and NPF.
5.    Record keeping and efficient data infrastructure is still a problem in the Commission. This indicates that there is still lack of institutional memory. There is lack of reliable data within the Commission and from the Nigeria Police to facilitate proper and efficient functioning of the PSC.
6.    The Police Service Commission needs the political support of the President and to enhance its authority to enhanceits efficiency by giving the Commission financial and operational independence from the Executive and the Nigeria Police. 
7.    It was noted with concern that the Commission had limited ability to handle some cases because it has not developed technical capacity to carry out its own investigations.
8.    The Commission has serious constraints in dealing with public complaints against the police.
9.    The Commission has not been able to create necessary public awareness about its functions, especially resolving complaints against the police.
  
Recommendations:
In the light of the foregoing, the forum recommends as follows:

Composition:
All stakeholders should work for the independence of the PSC by advocating the amendment to the Police Service Commission Act to address its composition.
1.    All appointments should be made in such a way as to strengthen the independence of the Commission. Efforts should be made to appoint people with managerial skills to strengthen the Commission.
2.    The Chairman of the Commission should be a person with broad managerial experience, preferably with broad corporate management skills. In the event that the Commission needs expert advice from the police, it should be given the liberty to seek such service.

Appointment Of Members:
1.    It is recommended that a retired police officer should not be appointed as Chair of the PSC, in order to ensure effective oversight over the police.
2.    When members of the Commission represent specific interest groups, these groups must be consulted on such appointments and should have the power to recall any representative when they deem fit.
3.    The appointment process should be transparent, preferably with properly advertised vacancy notices.

Functions:
1.    The PSC must have an independent investigative unit to look into any complaint.
2.    An efficient, sustainable IT databank should be developed and sustained.
3.    In exercising the delegated powers of the PSC, the Police should exercise caution and the PSC should ratify.
4.    The PSC should collaborate with National Orientation Agency (NOA) for the purpose of receiving and transmitting complaints from the states and local governments of the Federation.
5.    Section 19 of the PSC Act which stipulates that the Commission can receive directives from the President and is duty-bound to comply with such directives diminishes the powers of the PSC. The portion should be abrogated as unconstitutional as the Constitution conceives the PSC as an independent organisation.
6.    The Commission should be given adequate budgetary allocation and financial independence.
7.    The National Assembly should begin the process of amending the PSC Act in order to enhance its independence.
8.    There is need for proper enlightenment within the police force on the relationship between the police and the PSC.
9.    The Commission should develop effective and accessible complaints system, with the aid of information and communication (ICT).

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