The Senate on Wednesday passed the Police Reform Bill, which saw drastic amendments to, and review of some provisions of the Police Act of 1943.
If the bill is eventually assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) will be appointed for a five-year single tenure in office. The tenure of office is statutory, regardless of the retirement age of the appointee.
One of the key highlights of the bill was that while the President retained the power to appoint the IGP, such appointment has to be confirmed by the Senate.
Also, unlike the existing practice where the President can fire the IGP at will, the removal from office of the IGP has to be by recommendation of the Nigerian Police Council, as stated in Clause 7 (7c) of the bill.
Going by a provision of the bill, the Nigeria Police Council shall nominate three applicants from among the pool of qualified candidates for the position of IGP to the President for appointment.
The Police Council, the bill states, shall be chaired by the President, with the 36 state Governors, Chairman of the Police Service Commission and the Inspector – General of Police as members.
Clause 7(4c) of the bill states that the President shall appoint the Inspector – General from recommended applicants subject to the confirmation of the Senate.
Also, one of the provisions of the bill is a two-year jail term, or N5 million fine as punishment for anyone who impersonates a policeman or a police officer.
Similarly, any police officer caught for excessive use of force against civilians, leading to the death or bodily injury, shall be liable to two years jail term, or N1 million fine upon conviction.
This, however, is without prejudice to existing internal disciplinary measures in the police.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the passage of the bill, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Tijani Kaura, said the essence of the bill was to make the police people-friendly and service-oriented.
Kaura said training and re-training of police officers and men was also one of the key highlights of the bill, with the welfare of officers and men as priority.
Kaura said, “All the age long draconian laws in the Police Act of 1943 have been removed to make the Police people friendly, efficient and more effective in crime detection and security service delivery.
“The bill prescribed constant trainings and welfare packages for men and officers with the recently passed Police Trust Bill to ensure availability of funds for implementation.
“In the Police Trust Fund Bill, provisions like .5 percent from Nigeria’s gross income, .005% of profits made by companies in Nigeria would go a long way in helping government to fund the Police very adequately for improved security services to Nigerians”.