… Urges Overdue Police Reforms in Line with Global Standards
In a scathing rebuke of the Nigeria Police Command’s decision to persist with the use of checkpoints on the country’s highways, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called for urgent and comprehensive police reforms in alignment with modern global policing standards.
The premier Civil Rights Advocacy Group; HURIWA, expressed its strong disappointment with the recent affirmation by the Nigeria Police Force to continue the practice of checkpoints, which it considers outmoded, ineffective, and contrary to international best practices in policing.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, HURIWA’s National Coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko asserted that the persistence of checkpoints perpetuates an outdated method of law enforcement, eroding public trust and hindering the establishment of a truly professional police force.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko emphasized the urgent need for the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to reconsider its current policing strategies. He highlighted that the widespread solicitation of bribes from motorists at checkpoints, a practice known as ‘ROGER ME’ syndrome, undermines the force’s reputation and reinforces a culture of corruption. This practice not only conflicts with global policing standards but also damages the relationship between law enforcement and citizens.
“In an era where effective and efficient policing practices are being embraced worldwide, the Nigeria Police Force’s decision to persist with the outdated roadblock system raises significant concerns about the force’s commitment to adhering to global best practices. The assertion that checkpoints cannot be discarded demonstrates a reluctance to evolve and adapt to new, technology-driven crime-fighting methods proven successful in other countries.”
HURIWA’s press release emphasized the need for comprehensive reforms within the police force. It highlighted the significant disparity between Nigeria’s roadblock-heavy system and the community-oriented, consent-based policing models adopted by developed countries such as Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
Drawing a sharp comparison between the policing systems of Nigeria and those of the aforementioned developed nations, HURIWA highlighted the stark contrast between the roadblock-heavy system in Nigeria and the community-oriented, consent-based policing models in these countries, just as it underscored the Peelian principles, the bedrock of modern policing, which prioritize “policing by consent” and underscore transparency, accountability, and integrity in police operations.
“The Peelian principles, which form the foundation of policing in the aforementioned nations, emphasize the significance of transparency, integrity, and accountability. Policing by consent posits that law enforcement officers are essentially citizens in uniform, who derive their authority from the trust and support of the public. In contrast, Nigeria’s centralized police force has struggled to foster a sense of belonging and local engagement, resulting in inefficiencies and mistrust”.
While acknowledging the unique challenges faced by the Nigeria Police Force due to historical factors and the nation’s ethnoreligious diversity, HURIWA stressed that these challenges should not justify perpetuating outdated and ineffective policing practices. It pointed out that officers deployed away from their homes, communities often struggle to foster a sense of belonging, contributing to the disconnect between police and citizens.
In addressing these issues, HURIWA called upon the newly appointed Police Affairs Minister, Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, to prioritize comprehensive police reform that aligns with modern policing methodologies. The organization urged an immediate shift away from archaic roadblocks and advocated the integration of technology-driven crime-fighting approaches.
“HURIWA believes that adopting modern technology will play a pivotal role in restoring public confidence, enhancing operational efficiency, and promoting mutual collaboration between the police and citizens.”
HURIWA’s Onwubiko concluded with a passionate plea to the Nigerian government and the police leadership to heed the call for genuine police reform, emphasizing that only through the implementation of modern and effective policing practices could close the trust gap between the police and the public be bridged, ensuring safety and security of all Nigerians.
“The Nigeria Police Force must relinquish the roadblock system and adopt a dynamic, community-centered, and technology-enabled approach to policing. We passionately appeal to the Nigerian government and the leadership of the police force to heed the clarion call for genuine police reform.
“Only through the implementation of modern and effective policing practices can reduce the trust deficit between the police and the public be bridged, ultimately ensuring the safety of and security of all Nigerians”,
*Comrade Emmahuel Onwubiko*
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)
August 22, 2023.