By Ajibola Abayomi,
June 22, 2018.
Network of Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) on Friday made a bold step to strength policing in the country by presenting an extensive report reviewing the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) budgeting process.
The report exposed several loop holes in the process dubbed as secret budget affecting effective policing in the country and proffered solutions.
The body called for a review of the current budgeting allowing only the Inspector General of Police and the Budgeting Office to plan and executing NPF budget without input from other police hierarchies.
According to the body, the research was designed to initiate informed discussions around police budgeting, sources of income and flows of funds in the NPF.
Presenting the report the National Coordinator of NOPRIN Foundation, Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma, explained that the research provided an opportunity for further expert based research that could shape further advocacy and intervention around police accountability.
While rejecting the recent nomination retired Inspector General Of Police, Musiliu Smith as the Chairman of Nigeria Police Service Commission, he called on the government to appoint a non-police officer to head the commission so at to achieve optimum progress.
The NOPRIN report noted that other than salaries, the NPF budget represents a contribution to costs rather than an attempt to fund the NPF.
Also it was observed that majority of the operational equipment like Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), body armour, communications equipments and boats were supplied by state governments and the private sector despite the claim that the NPF was being funded by the federal government.
Reviewing the report, Barrister Malachy Ugwummadu, the President of Committee for Civil Defence Human Right (CDHR) faulted the exclusion of other police hierarchy from police budgeting and the excuse that the budget was a sensitive issue that should be kept away from the public glare.
He argued that it was high time the process was reviewed to allow for fundamental participatory process that would bring about openness and accountability.
“The easiest way to tell a lie is to use English expression. The word sensitive is just a means to further allow undue secrecy in the police budget otherwise all over the world police matters are expected to be treated in the open” he said.
Former NPF Public Relation Officer and retired Commissioner of Police, Mr Frank Odinta, the chairman of the occasion also called for inclusive budgeting to allow police combat crime and effectively discharge it constitutional responsibilities.
He said that a lot of Nigerians perceived police officers as being corrupt not knowing the challenges and pressures on them to perform their duties.
“The police budget for instance doesn’t get to the appropriate quarter on time and not one quarter of whatever was budgeted gets to the police on many occasions. Police are reflection of the larger society.
“If you clamed police are corrupt, the society made it so. All of us must stand up against corruption at every level for our nation to move forward. However, the call for openness and inclusiveness in the police budget process is a right agitation and the advocacy should continue.”
Making her own contribution, Katrin Aitken-Laird of Nigeria Security and Justice Adviser, West Africa Conflict and Security Team (CST) called for the review of the police act, setting up of a national security strategy and a complete over haul of the entire police force to safeguard the nation economic and well being.
She argued that the current state of insecurity in the nation threatening her growth.