Tuesday, 5 July 2011

OPENING REMARKS PRESENTED BY DR BOB ARNOT (JUSTICE FOR ALL PROGRAMME)

AT THE POST-ELECTIONS CONFERENCE ON POLICING ELECTIONS DURING THE APRIL 2011 ELECTIONS
IMMACULATE SUITES, WUSE II, ABUJA
28th June 2011

Protocols
Introduction and Background
The Justice for All (J4A) Programme is a DFID-funded programme that is assisting the Government of Nigeria (GoN) to reform the justice sector. The programme is supporting justice reform interventions at federal level and in five states (Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and Lagos). The J4A Programme comprises of four technical components focusing on safety and security; justice; anti-corruption and cross sector coordination. The overall impact that the programme is aiming to achieve is

Improved personal security and access to justice for all Nigerians”

Component 1 referred to as the security and policing component is to deliver more effective and accountable policing and remand services working with the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Police Service Commission (PSC), Ministry Of Police Affairs (MoPA) and Voluntary Policing Sector groups. Some of the interventions to be undertaken include setting up model police stations, working to support the NPF on accountability, oversight, improving service delivery, enhancing leadership and change management skills among police leadership. Others include strengthening core strategies, systems and business processes, strengthening the capacity of citizens to report crime and improving the capacity of the police to respond to complaints.

As part of its inceptions phase activities and its contribution to the efforts towards conducting free and fair elections the Justice for All Programme (J4A) supported the Nigeria Police (NPF) to train its officers for more effective policing of the April 2011 elections. J4A trained police trainers who were then instructed and supported by the NPF to train other police officers in Nigeria. Though the key interest of J4A is to have this training conducted in its five focal states of Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa, it was significant that the NPF used the trained trainers in more states than the five mentioned above.

The training focused on officers being able to comply with the ethical and professional guidelines drawn up by the Police Service Commission (PSC) which are meant to steer officers away from violations of rights, interfering with the election process, conniving to rig or manipulate the electoral process, disenfranchise particular persons or pose some other form of threat to the successful conduct of the elections.

It is important to note that the NPF has further deployed its resources in other operational areas such as logistics, technical and field support to its officers, it has also collaborated with other agencies towards improved policing of the elections. Some of these agencies include the National Human Rights Commission, UNDP, INEC, NEPAD and other development and donor groups among others.

In order to monitor the performance of police officers on election duty, J4A trained a number of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) from the five focal states who were supported to serve as election observers on election sessions in the five states. A total of 73 representatives were trained in Lagos (10 reps), Enugu (15 reps) and Kaduna (Kaduna –18, Kano –15 and Jigawa –15). They were provided a checklist containing a number of observations that will enable an assessment of the quality of the services provided by police officers during the elections. These CSOs filled out and submitted their evaluation on the prepared forms (checklist) to J4A which then conducted an analysis to establish a profile of policing elections in the focal states.

The information collected includes availability of security personnel at polling booths, their punctuality, sustained presence, number of officers, their compliance to instructions from electoral officers, compliance with electoral rules, interference with electoral process, quality of service provided in polling booths and identification of Stirling officers for possible commendation. The details of the data are presented below.

The present meeting is meant to consider some of the issues raised regarding policing the April 2011 elections not just in the five J4A focal states (Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa) but in other states that were equally supported and covered by our partner the CLEEN Foundation and other stakeholders.

CSO Assessment Results (Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa)
Without prejudice to the conference and the information that will be shared by other stakeholders, we are of the view that it is important to note that quite a number of positive and impressive findings were communicated to us by the CSOs that served as observers during the elections. It should be noted that these CSOs were not in every polling station and could not have possible covered every polling booth, the information provided is still indicative of the improvement that has been recorded by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in the 2011 elections when compared to preceding elections. In all, 269 assessment forms were turned in the CSO groups with 42.2% on National Assembly elections, 31.3% on Presidential elections and 26.5% on Governorship and State Assembly elections.

Some of the most important information include the following:

S/N
CONSIDERATION
% ACHIEVED
1.   
Punctuality of officers (arrived before 9am)
90.2%
2.   
Officers were approachable
94.0%
3.   
Officers were impartial
92.2%
4.   
People felt safe at polling booths
86.5%
5.   
Threat to security at polling booths
17.8%
6.   
Threat was dealt with adequately by security
80.0%
7.   
Police officers used force
7.1%
8.   
Police rated ‘very good’
32.2%
9.   
Police rated ‘good’
59.2%
10.  
Police rated ‘very poor’
0.4%
11.  
Police rated ‘poor’
0.4%
12.  
Observed officers who deserve commendation
87.7%

This assessment as indicated earlier was drawn on the five J4A focal states of Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa and should only be seen in that light. We are all witnesses of some of the incidences of abuse of process that have been reported in some polling stations across the country and will not deny that things did not go as well in some other locations. However, there is a widespread agreement that policing elections has significantly improved in Nigeria with the April 2011 elections.

As we go through the day, it should be mentioned that the objective is to begin a process that will enable the police to be better prepared for future elections in Nigeria. The focus should be towards early start to planning and proactive thinking. INEC has already informed Nigeria that it has started planning for its plans for the next and future elections. And the IGP has also hinted at such plans within the NPF. We would like to appeal to the NPF to not just begin preparations but to begin the process of institutionalising best practice in policing elections such that future elections will continue to gain in fairness and democratic tenets.  We wish you pleasant deliberations. Thank you.

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