The Nigeria Police Force (Establishment) Act 2020 was signed into law by President Buhari in September 2020 as a replacement for the Act of 2004.
The new Act is expected to improve the Police service in terms of accountability, transparency, protection of human rights, and effective collaboration with other security agencies
Importantly, here are some key peculiarities of these changes and how they affect residents:
1.THE IGP MUST NOW MAKE PROVISION FOR THE MENTAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WELLBEING OF OFFICERS.
Section 9(e) of the Act makes it mandatory for the IGP to make sure that the mental and psychological needs of police officers are catered for.
2.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 a chronic shortage of skilled manpower.
3.SPECIALISED UNIT FOR PRIVATE GUARD DUTIES NOW POSSIBLE.
Sections 21-25 of the Act relates to the recruitment and 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 the normal head-count as they are employed solely for the purpose of providing security for a place or persons who will pay their full salaries and entitlements as well as related specified costs.
4.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.
5.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 the promotion of human rights compliance amongst officers.
6.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 the warrant. The practicality of this is however not clear, because the Act did not say what will happen if such a member of the public refuses.
7.OFFICERS 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 if paid in full.
8.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.
9. 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 N100, 000 fine.
10. IT IS AN OFFENCE TO GIVE DRUGS, ALCOHOL TO POLICE OFFICERS ON DUTY.
Section 100 makes it unlawful for anyone to give any intoxicating substance to a police officer or even allow such an officer to remain in your house after taking such a substance. This is punishable by a minimum fine of N50, 000.
12.POLICE ARE NOW ABLE TO DISOBEY UNLAWFUL ORDERS FROM SUPERIOR OFFICERS.
Section 138 of the Act gives an officer the right to refuse to obey an order from a senior officer if he has a reasonable ground to believe the order is unlawful.Follow us on social media