Police Reform Dialogue: Remarks by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila at the Public Policy Dialogue on “Policing/Human Rights in Nigeria” organized by the House Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of the Legislative Agenda of the 9th House of Representatives.
I thank all of you who have heeded the invitation to join us at this event and to contribute to the critical conversations that I expect will hold here today. The cause of Police Reform has since inauguration been one of the fundamental commitments of the 9th House of Representatives. When we adopted our Legislative Agenda within months of our inauguration into office, it was right there on the list of the things we hoped to achieve. We recognize that the policing function is at the very heart of any fully functioning State. It is through the institution, mechanisms and resources of policing that the State can protect the welfare and wellbeing of its citizens.
Without the ability to offer this protection, the State loses legitimacy and the authority that flows from there. A society that cannot effectively Police itself ceases to exist, and a government that fails to protect its citizens has lost the right to continue in office. This is why we must commend the present administration which inherited a flawed policing system, and is now taking giant steps to reform the system through the recently enacted Police Reform Act, 2020 and several other measures. But the work is far from done, and we must continue
Effective policing is only possible when the policing institutions are grounded in the rule of law, when they are accountable and when the justice system in its entirety is fair to all who have cause to appear before it.
We cannot have an effective policing system when the citizens do not have faith that the Police will treat them fairly every time, no matter the circumstance. The Police cannot be effective when the mechanisms for accountability and discipline are too weak to identify, remove and prosecute rogue officers as a matter of course.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will have succeeded in building modern and effective Police when service in the Nigeria Police Force consistently attracts the best and brightest in our country without objection.
The House of Representatives has not taken up the cause of Police Reform because we bear particular animosity towards the Nigeria Police Force, or the individual officers that make up the force. The Nigeria Police Force includes in its leadership/ranks, many dedicated public servants doing their jobs as best as they can, under challenging circumstances. We want to help them be better public servants by removing rogue officers from amongst their midst
Our reform objectives include wholesale reviews of police recruitment/training procedures/practices. It also includes an obligation to drastically and rapidly improve the welfare and wellbeing of police officers from recruitment through to retirement. As we expect more from the men/women who carry arms & take risks to protect us, we must also be ready to do right by them, and by their families. They too are our citizens; they are our brothers/sisters deserving of the best that our nation can offer.
I want to assure all of you in this room, all of you who are watching today from wherever you are, the 9th House of Representatives will do everything we can to deliver for the Nigerian people a policing system that works for every citizen.