The Nigeria Police Force (Establishment) Act 2020 was signed into law by President Buhari in September 2020 as a replacement for the archaic 1943 legislation the country has been using since independence.
While the Act contains many provisions that relates to the operations of the Police, there are a few interesting clauses in the Act that should be of special interest to Nigerians.
Here are some provisions of the new police act that Nigerians should familiarize themselves with in order to hold ourselves accountable as complied by political strategist, Dr Charles Omole.
- The Inspector General of Police must make provision for the mental and psychological well being of officers. Mental health is a big problem in Nigeria as a whole and Section 9(e) of the Act makes it mandatory for the IGP to make sure the mental & psychological needs of police officers are catered for.
- Retired officers can be re engaged. The IGP can according to Section 9(6) re-engage retired police officers for up to four years of additional service. This could help plug the shortfall in some specialist areas where there is chronic shortage of skilled manpower.
- Specialized unit for private guard duties is now possible. Sections 21-25 of the Act relates to the recruitment & management of Supernumerary police officers. These are Officers recruited (employed in excess of normal police manpower count) to guard private or public buildings or individuals. They will not be part of d normal headcount as they are employed solely for d purpose of providing security for a place or persons who will pay their full salaries & entitlements as well as related specified costs. This should free up regular police officers.
- Ban on use of stereotypes to create reasonable suspicion. Section 54 makes it unlawful for police officers to create reasonable suspicion to search or detain individuals on the basis of manner of dress, hairstyle, tattoos etc.
- Every police division must have a lawyer. Section 68(3) of the Act makes it mandatory that every police division must have at least one police officer who is qualified to practice law and who will also be responsible for d promotion of human rights compliance amongst officers.
- Citizens can be instructed to execute a warrant of arrest. Section 76 of the Act says that if a police officer is not available and a warrant needs to be executed immediately; a court can direct any person to execute d warrant. The practicality of this is however not clear because the Act did not say what will happen if a member of the public refuses.
- Officers are not allowed to be financially indebted to anyone. According to Section 93; It is now unlawful for a serving police officer to be in any financial debt. Creditors can now apply for attachment of earnings that will make the debt to be deducted directly from the monthly salary of such officer (up to 30% of total salary) until the debt is paid in full.
- Officers not allowed to own any private business. Serving officers are not allowed to engage in any form of business other than farming according to Section 95 of the act
- It is now an offence to fail to help a police officer. If a police officer after being assaulted asked for your help and you fail to provide it, it is now an offence under Section 99 of the Act. This is punishable by three months Jail or N100K fine.
- Section 100 makes it unlawful for anyone to give any intoxicating substance like drugs or alcohol to a police officer while he is on duty or to
even allow such an officer to remain in your house after taking such substance. This is punishable by a minimum fine of N50k