Editor's note: Abdulrazaq Hamzat, an Illorin-based public affairs commentator and convener of Kwara Must Change, writes on the ongoing protests over police brutality in Nigeria, with suggestions on how the Nigeria Police Force can be reformed.
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1. AK47 should go off the street
Problem: It is an abnormality for Nigerian police officers to be carrying AK47 around on the streets as if we are in a war zone. World over, a small concealable pistol is what police carry, well hidden somewhere in their uniform to avoid giving the public a militarized state of mind. Making AK47 a part of our daily life experience indicates that everything is wrong with our policing and it injures public psychology.
Solution: AK47 should go off our streets because Nigeria is not a dumping ground for military waste of some other countries.
2. Improved staff strength
Problem: There are about 370,000 police officers in Nigeria to 200 million population. If 200 million people are divided by 370,000 police officers, that will be 540. This means that 1 police officer is given the responsibility of protecting 540 people, which may not be possible.
Solution: Based on the current strength of the police, there's a need to recruit double the current number of police officers for the police to operate optimally.
3. Equipment and capacity building
Problem: Chronically under-trained, the police are too often unequipped to deal with local security issues, forcing the army to be drafted in. The army is now deployed in thirty of the thirty-six states, mostly doing police work and undercutting the credibility of the NPF.
Solution: Police need to be trained properly and provided with basic equipment such as computers in all divisions and police stations to enable them to conduct on-spot verification of identity, electronic investigation, data capturing, exchange and verification of information between stations and divisions etc.
4. Ending VIP deployment
Problem: Unable to perform its basic functions to safeguard the community, the police are often used for VIP protection, thereby shortening the number of men to be deployed for community policing.
Solution: Police should end VIP deployment. A special agency for VIP protection should be created and all payments generated from this agency should go directly to government purse.
5. Weed out criminal elements in the police
Problem: A significant number of men of the Nigeria Police Force have criminal records.
Solution: Weed out criminal elements in the police. Deal with the estimated 10,000 officers with criminal records hired between 2001 till date.
6. 200% increase in budgetary provisions
Problem: Police is grossly underfunded. No funding for operational logistics, investigation and others, leading to bribery and corruption.
Solution: Improved budgetary provisions to the tune of at least, 200% of the current budget.
7. Independent prosecution of rogue officers
Problem: Many rogue officers involved in extrajudicial killings and violation of human rights have not been properly prosecuted.
Solution: Police should not investigate itself. Set up an independent prosecuting agency for the trial and prosecution of rogue officers.
8. Compensation to victims of police brutality
Problem: Too many Nigerians have become victims of police brutality.
Solution: Provide adequate compensation to victims of police brutality
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