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‘IGP’s measures overhauling SARS cosmetic’

Two justice organisations have criticized reforms by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris to comply with the directive by then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo as cosmetic.

Access to Justice (A2J) and Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) have said that the new measures fall short of expectations of the people and cannot deliver sustainable change.

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The Director of A2Justice, Joseph Otteh and National Coordinator of NOPRIN, Okechukwu Nwanguma have said over the weekend that it was convinced that the measures to reform SARS appear like a knee-jerk reaction to the Presidential directive, having been announced just on the heels of the directive. “Such speed does not provide evidence of thoughtful reflection, sober deliberation, wide and strategic consultation on an issue of such huge public importance. The IGP over-sped on the response in a way that questioned his genuineness of purpose.

“There are no measures of accountability for unlawful actions proposed in the new policies. The IGP offers the public, communication channels for reporting grievances against FSARS, but did not commit the police force to ensuring that every complaint made against FSARS operatives will be promptly and fairly investigated, and where substantiated, result in a definite outcome,” A2J said.

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The two organisations said the police force has always had communication lines for reporting unlawful or unprofessional behaviour of its officers, adding that the problem is oftentimes complaints draw a blank respond and those complained against do not get questioned or punished at the end of the day.

Sometimes, according to them, complainants are transposed into crime suspects to punish them for daring to complain. “The proposition, therefore, to re-use this old template this time around without more, as a response to the presidential directive is clearly a no-brainer. The internal police complaint procedure is abjectly unreliable and uninspiring.”

They said that the IGP also failed to offer concrete proposals for ensuring safeguards against abuse as his new policy contains no measures/guarantees for protecting complainants; ensuring complaints get fair and speedy consideration, and complainants are not subjected to reprisal attacks or persecution by persons within the police system.

A2Justice and NOPRIN, therefore, called on the IGP to go back to the drawing board, and fashion a new, more embracing and inspiring set of reforms for SARS.

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