Friday, 3 May 2013

COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE END OF THE POLICING EXECUTIVE FORUM ON EXTERNAL POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY AND THE POLICE SERVICE COMMISSION


Introduction

The 7th Policing Executive Forum was held at Bolton White Hotels, Abuja, on Tuesday 30th April 2013 with the theme “External Police 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 policing services provision. Participants were drawn from the Ministry of Police Affairs, civil society groups from across the country and 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, effectiveness and the significance of the oversight function of the Police Service Commission. Papers were presented by a renowned criminologist, Professor Etannibi Alemika, and civil rights lawyer and activist, Mr Bamidele Aturu, as well as a former Chairman of the Police Service Commission, 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 made the following observations:

1.      The Police Service Commission was established in 2001 after an 18-year military hiatus and should be commended for its achievements since then, including the development and adoption of guidelines for appointment, promotion and discipline in the Nigeria Police.
2.      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 recognised. For example, in issues of recruitment and discipline, there is still need for harmonisation of approaches between the PSC and NPF.
3.      Record keeping and efficient data infrastructure is still a challenge 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 Commission.
4.      The Police Service Commission needs financial and operational independence from the Executive and the Nigeria Police to enhance its authority and efficiency. 
5.      It was noted with concern that the Commission has limited ability to handle some cases brought to it by the public because it has not developed technical capacity to carry out its own investigations.
6.      The Commission has serious constraints in dealing with public complaints against the police or complaints by police officers. This undermines confidence in the Commission.
7.      The Commission has not been able to create necessary public awareness about its mandate and functions, especially resolving complaints against the police.
  
Recommendations
In the light of the foregoing, the Forum recommends as follows:

Composition
1.      All stakeholders should work for the independence of the Commission by advocating for an amendment to the Police Service Commission Act to address its composition.
2.      All appointments should be made in such a way as to strengthen the independence of the Commission. Particularly, the Chairman of the Commission should be a person with broad managerial experience. In the event that the Commission needs expert advice from the police, it should have 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 Commission, 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 Commission must have an independent investigative unit to look into complaints received by the Commission.
2.      An efficient, sustainable IT databank should be developed and sustained.
3.      In exercising the delegated powers of the Commission, the Nigeria Police should exercise caution and the Commission should ratify.
4.      The Commission should collaborate with the 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 Police Service Commission Act which stipulates that the Commission can receive directives from the President and is duty-bound to comply with such directives impedes on the independence of the Commission and diminishes its powers. The provision should be abrogated as the Constitution conceives the Commission as an independent institution.
6.      The Commission should be given adequate budgetary allocation and financial independence.
7.      The National Assembly should begin the process of amending the Police Service Commission Act in order to enhance its independence.
8.      There is need for proper enlightenment within the Nigeria Police on the relationship between the police and the Commission.
9.      The Commission should develop effective and accessible complaints system, with the aid of information and communication (ICT).


Signed:

'Kemi Okenyodo
Executive Director
CLEEN Foundation

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