By Bolaji Oladimeji Kazeem
The concerted effort by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Police Affairs to resuscitate the Police Public Complaints Committee to enable citizens to have a platform to seek redress and report recalcitrant police officers is a welcome development to support the social, tourism, political, and economic well-being of the citizens of the country.
The power to bear arms and exercise instrument of state authority as well as guard the citizens have intoxicated some officers to abuse their duty of safeguarding and protecting citizens whom they have been paid to protect.
This is not limited to Nigeria alone. It happens across the world and the entire human race has witnessed various categories of abuse by police officers in the course of discharging their duty which in some cases, led to maiming and death of citizens.
The issue of George Floyd in the United States of America is still fresh in our memory and the EndSARS protest in Nigeria. Not only that, in Europe, Asia, North and South America, as well as Oceania, is still the same gross abuse of power by some recalcitrant police officers.
These issues have been on the front burner in the world on how police can restore law and order without abuse of the right of citizens and management, control of agitators without brutality that we witness across the world now.
The aftermath of George Floyd’s protest in the United States of America which had resulted in looting and destruction of lives and properties, likewise the EndSARS protest which created chaos, disorder, and casualties in Nigeria have created social, economic, and political disconnect in the country.
Innocent citizens and Police officers have lost their lives resulting in the creation of vacuum in the families and society at large. The compensation and restitution being paid now would have been used to remedy pressing social malaise in the society that would have had a more meaningful impact on society.
The prevailing economic downturn which COVID-19 has aggravated, created more poverty in the world that affected both individuals and corporate bodies. It is not gainsaying the fact that the EndSARS protests of October 20, 2020, had a massive impact on the health of many individuals, loss of businesses, destruction of both private and public properties.
The power to bear arms if unchecked with strict monitoring will promote corruption and abuse of power by the person authorized to bear arms in the country. Although, there are some forms of internal guidelines by the Nigeria Police Force but this, overtime, has proved not sufficient to deter inappropriate use of it by the rank and file of officers.
The popular aphorism in the civil-military relationship canvass by the emeritus Professor Bayo Adekanye, “Who guides the guardian”, suffice in the resuscitation of Police Public Complaints Committee that would facilitate monitoring and sanctioning of recalcitrant officers. This will enhance hope and confidence for the citizens that there is an unbiased platform for them to report erring police officers.
The evolution of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and fast thriving digital platform has reinforced the need for the Ministry of Police Affairs to create a platform for the citizens to seek redress and have access to authority without fear of leakages in the system.
Apart from the dedicated lines that would be created for citizens to lodge their complaints, there should be an App that would have real-time facilities that enable citizens record both voice and video during an interaction between citizens and police officers on duty.
As the Minister of Police Affairs continues to work towards emplacing comprehensive reforms of the Nigeria Police, modernize police operations through equipping, provision of modern technology and capacity building as well as robust welfare programs, the inauguration of the Police Public Complaint Committee is a game-changer that will energize the interest of the citizens to have faith in the present administration’s reform efforts of the police force.
The Committee will have 24 hours dedicated lines with the special investigative team from Department of State Security (DSS); Nigeria Police Force; Civil Society; Ministry of Justice; National Human Rights Commission; National Intelligence Agency; Police Community Relations Committee; etc. to forestall a reoccurrence of the issue of EndSARS because there is a platform for the citizens to engage higher authority on the activities of the recalcitrant officers of the Nigeria Police Force.
This will create decorum and ethical practice within the rank and file of the Police force based on the fact that there are third eyes on their conduct with the public as well as evidence-based facilities that would initiate disciplinary actions against erring officers.
This action of the Ministry of Police Affairs has obliterated the issue of espirit de corps that undermine disciplinary action against any police officer that abuses its power in the course of their duty in the country.
There is no hiding place for perverts in the police force anymore as the Ministry is out to ensure discipline, dedication, fairness, and equity for both citizens and rank and file of the force in order to create an enabling environment for the realization of the individual and collective dream of our great country, Nigeria.
Police Public Complaints Committee (PPCC) is going to be a permanent structure that will help to effectively nip in the bud civil unrest with their undesirable and disruptive tendencies through the provision of opportunities for people to channel their grievances on the misconduct of police personnel to the appropriate quarters for necessary action.