The authorities of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), on Monday requested the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), to set up human rights desk that will cater for its personnel whose rights have been violated in the course of their job.
This was as the commission flagged-off its Police Station Visitors Week (PSVW), meant to audit the activities of the police with detainees.
The flag-off ceremony took place at the Life Camp Police Station in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Speaking at the event, the director, Civil and Political Rights of the commission, who stood in for the executive secretary, Tony Ojukwu, explained that the flag off marks the beginning of the PSVW in all the affected States, in furtherance of the Commission’s mandate to carry out periodic audit of places of detention across the country towards ensuring that practices in the detention facilities conform to human rights standards.
He urged the police to continue to collaborate with the commission in their quest to ensure that the right of every citizen is respected.
He assured that the commission does not discriminate against government security agents as they are citizens of Nigeria and should be protected as well.
Earlier, the Area Commander of Life camp area command, ACP Gomwalk Nandel who spoke on behalf of the FCT Commissioner of Police had, while welcoming the team urged the commission to set up a desk unit where policemen who are attacked or whose rights are violated in the course of their jobs could report.
The team were conducted round the police station with journalists and cameras. The detention facilities were opened for inspection and books were looked into.
The executive secretary’s remarks in part, reads; ‘’I welcome you all to this flag-off of the Police Station Visitors Week (PSVW), which is taking place at the Life Camp Police Station in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. This flag-off marks the beginning of the PSVW in all the affected States, in furtherance of the Commission’s mandate to carry out periodic audit of places of detention across the country towards ensuring that practices in the detention facilities conform to human rights standards.
“The focus of this exercise is Police Detention Centres. However, the National Human Rights Commission also carries out periodic audit of other places of detention, in line with its mandate. The outcome of these exercises in the past, have led to far reaching reforms and policies in institutions like the Nigeria Correctional Services and the Nigeria Police Force.
“The audit exercise will take place from today, Monday, 21 to Friday, 25 February 2022and as I speak, monitors have been sent to one State per geo-political zone, to carry out the audit in some police stations in those States. These monitors have been appropriately trained to go about the assignment with every sense of responsibility and diligence, having in mind that the National Human Rights Commission’s mandate is to protect and promote the rights of everyone in Nigeria and this includes persons in detention and even the detaining officers.
‘’The PSVW project is part of a larger project on Strengthening Police Reform in Nigeria, funded by MacArthur Foundation and implemented by the Commission, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President, CLEEN Foundation, Network for Police Reforms (NOPRIN), and the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC). The following States have been selected for the exercise:
Sokoto for the North West, Bauchi for the North East, Benue for the North Central and Oyo for South West. Others are Imo for South East, Edo for South South, and of course the Federal Capital Territory.
In carrying out the assignment, these trained Visitors are tasked to collect and document information regarding the Police Stations, suspects (detainees), condition of the detention facility, community relations, treatment of detainees, gender integration, as well as the welfare of the detaining authorities. Data gathered during the audit will be analysed and published as a report, which will be shared with all Stakeholders. The aim is to enhance Police accountability, identify good practices and document challenges that may exist, with a view to making action-oriented recommendations to appropriate authorities, as well as carrying out advocacy for improvement of detention facilities. In all these, human rights standards will be the benchmark.
I express my appreciation the MacArthur Foundation for supporting this process and express my goodwill to our partners in the project, CLEEN Foundation, Network for Police Reforms (NOPRIN), Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC). I also commend the Police Force for cooperating with the Commission towards making the PSVW a success, and urge it to continue the collaboration, which is aimed at ensuring a culture of respect for human rights in Nigeria.
We are not unaware of the security challenges in our dear country and so the monitors, in their training, have been charged to ensure that they take adequate precaution for a hitch-free exercise. I extend my best wishes to the Inspector-General of Police and the entire Police authority who have over the years acknowledged the role of the Commission as a co-actor with them in the promotion and protection of the rights of everyone in Nigeria. Together, we shall continue to work towards strengthening reforms in the Nigeria Police so that someday, we shall have a Police Force where human rights standards are upheld in every aspect of policing. May I add at this point inform us that the second part of this project will involve training sessions for police personnel. This will take place within the second and third quarters of this year. It is hoped that some of the issues identified during this audit exercise will form part of the training contents.
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