President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the establishment of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry by 13 States of the federation to investigate cases of police brutality and bring justice for victims across the country.
The president, who made his feelings known in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Wednesday said the establishment of the panel was in line with the resolution of the National Economic Council (NEC).
The NEC, under the chairmanship of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, at its meeting on Oct. 15, 2020 resolved to establish State-level Judicial Panels of Inquiry, to investigate allegations of police brutality and ensure that all erring personnel are brought to justice.
The States that have set up the panels so far are: Lagos, Kaduna, Delta, Ekiti, Ogun, Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Plateau, Edo, Nasarawa, Ondo and Akwa Ibom.
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Buhari lauded the promptness of these necessary subnational actions, and reaffirmed his commitment to supporting the State Governments to ensure that justice is achieved for all victims of police brutality in Nigeria.
The statement noted that prior to that, the president had in June 2019 signed a Bill establishing the Police Trust Fund, to mobilize additional funding for the welfare and equipping of the Nigeria Police Force.
“Accrual of funding into the Fund, as specified in its enabling Act, has commenced.’’
It also recalled that the president had in 2018 approved an increase in police salaries.
The police personnel budget has seen a rise from 288 billion Naira in the 2018 Budget to 417 billion Naira in the proposed 2021 budget; an increase of 45 per cent.
While inaugurating the Nigerian Police Pension Fund Limited building on Oct.20, the president also reiterated continuous support for both serving and retired police personnel.
The president has equally approved the rollout and funding of a new Community Policing Initiative, as part of a larger programme of police reform in Nigeria, aimed at rewriting the rules of engagement between the Force and citizens.
According to the presidential aide, Buhari’s commitment to extensive police reforms should never be in doubt, saying the president in Sept. 2020 signed the new Nigeria Police Act, the first comprehensive revision of the Police Act in decades.
“As President Buhari declared, the immediate dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), is the first step in a set of reform policies that will deliver a Police system accountable to the Nigerian people.
“The President has also approved full implementation of the report of the 2018-2019 Presidential Panel on Police Reform.
“Indeed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Police Service Commission (PSC) have now commenced the implementation of the Report,’’ Adesina further stated.
He, therefore, appealed for understanding and calm across the nation, as the implementation of the reforms gathered pace at federal and state levels.
“The Presidency wishes to reiterate the full commitment of the Buhari Administration to the implementation of lasting Police reforms in Nigeria,’’ he said.