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Full text of Arase’s remarks at Police Service Commission retreat / regulation workshop

Opening remarks by Dr. Solomon E. Arase (rtd), the Honourable Chairman, Police Service Commission at the Retreat for Development of Strategic Plan for the Police Service Commission and Review of Police Regulation Workshop holding in Benin, from 19th – 25th November, 2023

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I am elated to deliver the opening remarks at this all-important workshop and retreat for the Directors of the Police Service Commission, Senior Police Officers and other eminent personalities drawn from Ministries of Police Affairs, Justice, Association of Retired Police Officers of Nigeria and Civil Society Organisations.

Permit me to start by thanking the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) whose untiring efforts, resilience and focus-mindedness at ensuring Police reforms in Nigeria have birthed this retreat.

This retreat is supported by the “Supporting Police Reform Processes in Nigeria” project led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Security Reform Foundation (GS-Foundation) through generous financial donations of the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO).

I am bold to say that without the aggregation of these support, sponsorship and collaboration, this retreat would not have been possible at this time; and I register my deep appreciation to you all. On this note, I warmly welcome everyone seated here to this retreat, while also appreciating your acceptance to participate in the training workshop.

This retreat is two-pronged. The first being the development of a Strategic Action Plan for the Police Service Commission; and the second is, the review of a draft Police Regulation, with special reference to addressing issues in the Nigeria Police Force.

These two major agenda for this training workshop and retreat are mutually reinforcing to the core objective and intendment for the establishment of Police Service Commission, as provided in Section 6 of the Police Service Commission Act, 2001 which empowers the Commission to:

a) Be responsible for the appointment and promotion of persons to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force
b) Dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons other than (the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force.
c) Formulate policies and guidelines for the appointment, promotion, discipline and dismissal of officers of the Nigeria Police Force;
d) Identify factors inhibiting or undermining discipline in the Nigeria Police Force;
e) Formulate and implement policies aimed at the efficiency and discipline to the Nigeria Police Force;
f) Perform such other functions which in the opinion of the Commission are required to ensure the optimal efficiency of the Nigeria Police Force; and
g) Carry out such other functions as the President may from time to time, direct.

In the light of this statutory enablement, there is no gainsaying the fact that the Commission must be focused with a strategic action plan if it must deliver on its mandate to the Nigerian people. This, therefore, underscores the imperative essence of strategic planning, and the importance of this retreat in the life of the Police Service Commission.

A strategic action plan is a compendium of articulated organizational goals, vision, and objectives tailored towards its optimal functionality, providing also ways of repositioning its future in the attainment of its mandate.

Strategic planning, therefore, entails developing a vision for the institution; identifying strategic priorities; setting out goals and objectives; highlighting key initiatives to be taken; and coming up with an action plan for implementation.

With this explanation, I am not in any doubt that we do not know the reason we are here, and the onerous task before us.

Everyone is therefore implored to wear his/her thinking cap as we embark on this critical assignment of repositioning the Commission, by developing action template for its greater efficiency and effectiveness in the discharge of its statutory functions.

There is no doubt that policing in our contemporary world finds itself at an important juncture, as emergent crimes continue to place enormous demands on the police on one hand, while the advent of information superhighway has brought the police to greater scrutiny and accountability on the other hand.

The aggregation of these demands by the people, coupled with the challenges of insecurity in our present-day Nigeria, have continued to impugn on the ability of the police to effectively discharge their duties.

Although, several attempts have been made over the years to reposition the Force to be more effective and responsive in the discharge of its responsibilities, as well as to gain and sustain public confidence and trust in the Police; these efforts, however, are yet to record expected outcomes, as the expectations of the people and performance of the police seem to be parallel.

This has inarguably reinforced the call for police reforms in Nigeria, in order to make the police more responsive, responsible and accountable to the people.

Police Reform is an integral facet of the Security Sector Reforms (SSR). It is aimed at promoting the effectiveness of policing and law enforcement in the country by repositioning and revitalizing the institutional, operational, reputational posture of the NPF for optimal functionality.

The Commission as an agency of Government, saddled with the responsibility of exercising oversight powers over the Nigeria Police Force has critical roles in line with its statutory mandate at ensuring Police reform in Nigeria.

Critical decisions are, therefore, upon the shoulders of the Commission at this critical moment in our history, and we cannot afford to delay while the nation bears the brunt of a police force whose efficiency, responsibility and accountability in the management of internal security are yet to meet the people’s aspirations and yearnings.

The advent of Police Act, 2020 is a remarkable milestone in the life of the Nigeria Police Force, as it was the first comprehensive reform of the Police legislation since the Police Act of 1943.

The new Act, has, therefore, necessitated a consequential modification of the allied policy and operational instruments that guide the functioning of the Nigeria Police Force, such as the Police Regulations. This is crucial in bringing police operations and conduct in conformity with community expectations, and global best practices.

A review of the Police Regulation has become imperative given that some aspects of its provisions have been overtaken by events, while some other contemplations and textual framing need to be neatly aligned with the strategic embrace of recent legal and policy framework on contemporary issues and realities of policing.

Gladly, the UNDP has deployed huge resources at identifying and addressing substantive gaps as well as legal, ethical, and procedural concerns which have grown obsolete, discriminatory and inconsequential in modern day policing in the Police Regulation.

The Sections affected are: 4, 42, 52, 118, 121, 122, 123, 124, 127, 128 and 271. In the course of this retreat, we are going to undertake a meticulous and holistic review of the draft Police Regulation by UNDP, with a view to updating and making it come in tune with the changing realities and demands of today’s policing.

Section 138 of the Police Act, 2020 has empowered the Honourable Minister, Police Affairs not only to make Regulations, but also to regularly review Police Regulation, on the recommendation of the Inspector-General of Police and in collaboration with the Police Service Commission.

This, of course, underpins the importance of participation in this retreat drawn from these mentioned institutions and other relevant stakeholders in our internal security architecture.

On a final note, it is my hope that our practical experiences and respective intellectual exposure will be brought to bear in this critical national exercise, in developing a comprehensive, implementable and strategic action plan for the Commission which will serve as a springboard for Police reform in Nigeria.

While wishing every one of us a memorable retreat and stay in the ancient kingdom of Benin, I have no doubt that our deliberations will be fruitful and help in rebirthing a-people-centred police, repositioned and efficient, responsible and accountable to the Nigerian people.

Thank you for listening.

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