Trust building: FG launches citizens-police dialogue

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Usman Alkali Baba

By Emmanuel Elebeke, Abuja

As part of its commitment to implement recommendations of reports on #EndSARS Protests and other governance issues, the federal government on Thursday launch the Citizens-Police Dialogue series to rebuild trust between the Nigerian Police and the citizens.

Launching the scheme in Abuja as part of the ongoing Open Government Partnership, OGP Week, the Minister of State Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba said the aim of hosting the stakeholders’ dialogue, which will be held in the 6 geo-political zones of the country was to rebuild trust between the police and citizens in a manner that would make every one of us safe.

He said the dialogue was a confirmation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to implement Open Government ideals and willingness to sustain his resolve to improve relations between citizens and the police.

The dialogue was a weeklong exercise of exchanging ideas and commitment in pursuance of the Open Government Partnership principles.

It consists of the representatives of the Nigeria Police Force, the Police Service Commission, Civil Society partners, and citizens.

The Open Government Week is a week set aside globally for Open Government doers, leaders, and thinkers from around the world to come together to share ideas, discuss solutions, and commit to new levels of citizen participation in government.

This year’s Open Gov Week theme focused on how to renew or rebuild governments, institutions, and societies that are transparent, accountable, participatory, and inclusive.

The Nigeria Open Government Partnership National Steering Committee is focusing on two critical areas of our National Action Plan – Beneficial Ownership Transparency and Civic Space.

While pledging the federal government’s commitment to work with all relevant stakeholders on hosting the dialogue in other parts of the country, he called on every Nigerian to actively join the process of rebuilding trust and building back a better Nigeria Police Force that works for all.

In his remarks, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Baba said the force is doing its best to improve its relations with the citizens.

According to him, the police require more than the government’s support to restore peace in the country.

On whether there is a breakdown of communication between the management and ranks and file on the dismantling of roadblocks, said there has never being a gap between the police management and ranks and file. He, however, admitted that in every organization, there must be miscreants.

On his part, representative of the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Anthony Ojukwu said the Commission as an advisory body that performs oversight function had concluded an investigation on the recent EndSars protests and made detailed recommendations to the government.

He also said that the Commission was instrumental to the disbandment of SARS by the federal government and is at the Vanguard of ongoing statewide investigation on human rights abuse by SARS in the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT.

The Executive Coordinator of CLEEN Foundation, Dr. Benson Olugbuo blamed the collapse of the citizen and police relation on lack of inter-agency relation.

It will be recalled that early last year, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the implementation of Nigeria’s second National Action Plan which made extensive commitments around citizens’ engagement in governance as well as recommendations on #EndSARS protest.

Some of the recommendations include: Passage of the Bill for an Act to repeal the Police Service Commission Act and Enact the Police Service Commission Bill, 2020; National Human Rights Commission (NHRC); National Orientation Agency (NOA) and their Non-State Actors partners to hold a quarterly zonal ‘Citizen-Police Dialogue; joint PSC/CSO led quarterly select police station visitation to ascertain the condition of the station, adherence to Standard Operating Procedure and conditions of suspects held in the station among others.

Following the approval, the National Steering Committee also approved the extension of the implementation period of Nigeria’s second National Action Plan by one year, to allow stakeholders to review existing commitments with a view to revising earlier commitments to reflect the government’s responses to COVID-19, the #EndSARS Protests and other governance issues.

The approval followed the extension of the implementation period of existing action plans by the OGP global community which took cognizance of the devastating effect of the pandemic on economies and allowed member countries to as well as revising existing commitments to reflect governments’ responses to issues necessitated by the pandemic and other current issues.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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