27 May 2008

Nigeria: Why I Want Police Act Repealed - Sen Ndoma-Egba

Member of the leadership of the Senate and legal luminary, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), has posited that only the repeal of the existing Police Act and the re-enactment of a new Act which take cognisance of current realities, would enable the Nigeria Police function satisfactorily in a democratic dispensation.

Ndoma-Egba told LEADERSHIP that the law establishing the Nigeria Police Force was a colonial instrument and that it was constructed to achieve colonial/imperial orders, thereby making it not part and parcel of the citizenry which it was suppose to protect.

The Nigeria Police Act came into effect on April 1, 1943, long before Nigeria got independence and since then, no major amendment to the Act to enable it fit into a post colonial independent police and policing in a democracy.

Ndoma-Egba who's bill to this effect has already passed second reading in the Senate, said, "now we want a police which represents our democracy and to be able to see police than representing colonial authorities which conceptualised it in a colonial environment.

The new Police Act when passed would change the idea of "Force" to service to conform with democratic tenents. He also explained that the new act would eliminate role conflict between officers as the bill has specified roles definitions and responsibilities for all cadre of officers. The existing Police Act only specified the role of the inspector general of police, and commissioner of police, Ndoma-Egba said.

Also in the new bill, community policing has been recognised and created to be part of the police service. This, he explained would enable proper policing of the society in a civil era. There is also a mechanism to check the excesses of the police by creating a system which monitors the police and a properly recognised channel of complaints against the police would also be established. When all these are achieved, the police would become a civil law enforcement organisation that is service oriented and efficient.

Presenting his lead debate before the Senate, Ndoma-Egba said "the philosophy of the bill goes to the conceptualisation of the police as a service in which the people and communities are core stakeholders in which the people come first as against the police as a "Force" which stood apart from the people it ought to protect and safeguard."

Section 28 of the bill provides for the bail of persons arrested without warrant to the effect that such persons shall not be kept in detention for more than 24 hours without being charged to court. This brings it in line with the provisions of the constitution.

The Nigeria Police Force as it is presently consituted is recorgnised by the 1999 consitution. The bill to repeal the colonial law is, however, coming at the time when the federal legislature is set to amend the 1999 constitution, it is hoped that the issues would be examined and the relevant portions of constitution amended to satisfy the prosposed police law.

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