President Muhammadu Buhari has reaffirmed his commitment to supporting the State governments to ensure that justice is achieved for all victims of police brutality in Nigeria.
He said at the last count, no fewer than 13 States have gone ahead to establish the Judicial Panels of Inquiry as resolved by the National Economic Council (NEC) to address the question of redress and justice for victims of police brutality across the country.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the President commended the promptness of these necessary subnational actions.
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.
Under the Chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the NEC had at its meeting on Thursday October 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 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.
The President said accrual of funding into the Fund, as specified in its enabling Act, has commenced.
He stated: “President Muhammadu Buhari welcomes the promptness of these necessary subnational actions, and reaffirms his commitment to supporting the State Governments to ensure that justice is achieved for all victims of police brutality in Nigeria.
“President Buhari in 2018 approved an increase in Police salaries and the Police personnel budget has seen a rise from N288 billion in the 2018 Budget to 417 billion Naira in the proposed 2021 budget; an increase of 45 per cent.
“The Presidency appeals for understanding and calm across the nation, as the implementation of the reforms gathers 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.”
The President noted that he 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.
He stressed that his commitment to extensive Police reforms should never be in doubt, adding that in September 2020, he signed the new Nigeria Police Act, the first comprehensive revision of the Police Act in decades.
Buhari said as he declared, the immediate dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), was the first step in a set of reform policies that will deliver a Police system accountable to the Nigerian people, adding that he has also approved full implementation of the report of the 2018-2019 Presidential Panel on Police Reform.
He noted that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Police Service Commission (PSC) have now commenced the implementation of the report.