The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has reiterated the need for a reform mechanism that would improve citizens’ trust in the Nigeria Police for the intent and purpose of community policing to be achieved.
Dr Fayemi stated this during a stakeholders’ forum on community policing, involving heads of security agencies, public servants, politicians, civil society organisations, youth and women organisations, heads of government institutions, trade and professional groups in Ado-Ekiti at the weekend.
The Ekiti State Governor spoke, just as a former Inspector General of Police, Mr Sunday Ehindero urged stakeholders to support the holistic establishment of community policing to tackle the menace of banditry, kidnapping and other security challenges bedevilling the Country.
Dr. Fayemi who stated that community policing is vital to addressing security challenges in the country, however lamented the non-implementation of a wide range of recommendations made at different conferences on how the Nigeria Police can be reformed in the last 20 years.
The Governor who spoke through the State Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Wale Fapohunda; said the establishment of a police ombudsman with the mandate to receive and address citizens’ complaints against police officers and also address cases of abuse against police officers had become imperative.
He also urged the Federal Government not to despise recommendations made by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up in the wake of the ENDSARS protests with special attention on getting justice and compensations for victims of police abuse.
The Governor also called on the Minister of Police Affairs to engage a reputable audit firm to undertake an audit of the salaries, the wages, allowances of police officers including manpower and equipment available to the police, stressing that police force with poor condition of service and struggling to survive cannot deliver the purpose of community policing.
Fayemi said: “A large number of our people still don’t see police as their friends. So it seems to me that an important way we can get that trust is through police reform. We cannot simply hope to achieve the intent of community policing without police reforms.
“The Federal Government should take seriously the reports of the judicial panel of inquiry that has been set up in the aftermath of the ENDSARS protests. If we are going to move forward we have to look backward and ensure that our people that have serious issues with police are properly compensated and their pains recognized.
“There is nothing wrong with the Nigeria Police today that has not been subject of multiple reports of many committees which the IG and myself participated. There are many high level reports on police reforms including two constitutional conferences.
“The tragedy is that the recommendation of this committee and that of constitutional conference had largely been left unattended to. We need to look at those reports bring them back to life and base on those reports agreed on an actionable agenda that is time bound for the use of the country as a whole and for the enhancement of police reforms in Nigeria.
“We absolutely need to revisit the conditions of service of police officers, the situation of police barracks, the situation of police stations, all the allowances entitled to the Police. There has been too much theory about the need to improve the conditions of service of the police officer an unhappy police force cannot deliver community policing, is crucial.” He added.
In his presentation, former IG Ehindero said tackling security challenges solely from the angle of security personnel has shifted to community stakeholders playing vital roles in providing intelligence that would assist the security agencies to perform optimally.
Ehindero who noted that such approach of community policing was what assisted in the rescue of the abducted secondary School Students in Katsina State, said the need to embrace community policing by supporting it was crucial to overcoming the security challenges bedeviling the Nation.
The Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 17 comprising of Ekiti and Ondo, David Folawiwo called on the Stakeholders to take ownership of community policing. He said the Inspector General of Police was committed to making constabularies who were nominated by their community to serve in their locality thereby ensuring that there is police presence in every hamlet, villages and towns.
Earlier in his welcoming address, the State Commissioner of Police, explained that the programme was designed to enhance and expand the horizon of collaboration between security agencies and other critical stakeholders in the society particularly traditional rulers and community leaders at the grassroots.
In attendance at the forum were the Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, Secretary to the State Government, Hon Biodun Oyebanji, Head of Service, Mrs Peju Babafemi; Chief of Staff, Hon Biodun Omoleye; Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Hon Ayodeji Daramola; represented by Justice John Adeyeye, traditional rulers led by the Chairman traditional Council, Oba Ayodeji Alabi represented by Owaoye of Okemesi Oba Gbadebo Adedeji and other top government functionaries.