As the nation continues to boil, the Presidency on Wednesday appealed to Nigerians to show understanding with the present regime and remain calm while it tries to implement police reforms.
The call was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, titled, ‘President Buhari welcomes establishment of judicial panels of inquiry by 13 states to deliver justice for victims of police brutality’.
The call for calm came few hours after eyewitnesses claimed armed soldiers opened fire on protesting youths at the Lekki toll gate area in Lagos State.
Reeling out the steps he claimed have so far been taking to address the demands of the protesters, Adesina wrote, “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 presidential spokesman claimed that at the last count, no fewer than 13 states have established judicial panels of inquiry as resolved by the National Economic Council to address the question of redress and justice for victims of police brutality across the country.
He listed the states that have done so to include Lagos, Kaduna, Delta, Ekiti, Ogun, Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Plateau, Edo, Nasarawa, Ondo and Akwa Ibom.
The statement added, “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.
“Under the Chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the National Economic Council 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.
“Prior to that, the President 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.
“President Buhari in 2018 approved an increase in police salaries and the police personnel budget has seen a rise from N288bn in the 2018 Budget to N417bn in the proposed 2021 budget; an increase of 45 per cent.
“Only on Tuesday, at the commissioning of the Nigerian Police Pension Fund Limited building, 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.
“President Buhari’s commitment to extensive Police reforms should never be in doubt. The President in September 2020 signed the new Nigeria Police Act, the first comprehensive revision of the Police Act in decades.”
Adesina added that as Buhari declared, the immediate dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad was the first step in a set of reform policies that will deliver a police system accountable to Nigerians.
He said the President had also approved full implementation of the report of the 2018-2019 Presidential Panel on Police Reform.
“Indeed, the National Human Rights Commission and the Police Service Commission have now commenced the implementation of the report,” he added.