Nigeria needs national data bank to effectively check crime- Experts

Nigeria Police Officers
FILE PHOTO: Nigeria Police Officers

Cleen Foundation is holding a two-day seminar.

Nigeria needs a comprehensive national data bank for its security and anti-graft agencies to be able to effectively check corruption and crime, security and human rights experts have said.

This was stated on Monday in Minna, Niger State, during a two-day leadership seminar for police oversight agencies.

The seminar was organised by Cleen Foundation in conjunction with the Justice for All (J4A) Program of the U.K.’s Department for International Development. It is designed to enhance service delivery through greater inter-institutional collaboration to oversee the police.

Speaking at the occasion, Ben Angwe, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, noted that the major problem the country has is that of data and statistics.

He said most of the fraud taking place across Nigeria is as a result of the lack of a data bank which would reveal history and details of perpetrators; and thus encourage accountability.

Mr. Angwe, a professor, said this while reacting to reports about several Nigerians joining the police with the use of fake degree certificates or original ones belonging to other people.

“Nigerians want to get overnight money thus use other people’s certificates. We must begin with data bank of all citizens in order to tackle this,” he stated.

The don said lack of data also encourages the police in criminalizing innocent Nigerians in order to appear effective; while this leads to citizens staying away from the police as a result of mistrust.

He said a data bank was also absent in professional bodies including lawyers association.

“If we are very sincere in helping this country, the first point to look at is data. How many Nigerians have their data registered in a data bank? We don’t have even fingerprints. Nigeria today has no data bank.

“People can pick birth certificates from any state while a person has several birth certificates bearing different dates of birth collected from different parts of the country. Lack of data assists false declaration and is a major problem facing this country,” Mr. Angwe said.

To successfully establish an effective national data bank, Etannibi Alemika, the Chairman, Board of Directors of Cleen Foundation, said there was need for a better political system.

Mr. Alemika, a professor at the University of Jos, said that as first line of action, fingerprints of all suspects in police custody be collected and computerised.

He also called for the capturing of all police officers’ fingerprints in a database alongside their details for a more robust oversight and accountability of the Police Force.

“Voters registers could also be used in capturing a national data base. Criminals who transform into kidnappers, armed robbers, among others, after elections equally vote during elections as political thugs to politicians,” Mr. Alemika said.

The two dons called for an effective internal control in the police; saying its absence could frustrate effective oversight.

“With time, things will improve but we must have a foundation. We owe this generation of Nigerians by sitting up and this can be done by being evidence based,” Mr. Angwe said.

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