A coalition of civil society organisations involved in police reform and accountability in Nigeria has called for the disbandment of specialised units within the Nigerian Police Force.
In a joint statement on Thursday, the group said extra-legal units such as the Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), and IGP Monitoring units are needless as they contribute to complete breakdown of discipline, mischief, incompetence, and loopholes within the police force.
The joint statement was signed by Executive Directors of the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC); Partners West Africa; Spaces for Change; and Confluence of Rights Nigeria.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported a nationwide call for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by Nigerians due to their brutality, extrajudicial killings, unlawful arrests among others.
The Nigerian government later bowed to pressure and disbanded the police unit. It, however, replaced the unit with the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).
The coalition urged the Nigerian Police Force to disband existing extra-legal units, strengthen its traditional units and equip them with modern tools and skilled manpower for them to function effectively.
“Before creating multiples of the so-called specialised units became rampant and widespread, we had and still have the traditional departments and units recognised under the Police Act that carry out intelligence, investigative, monitoring, training, planning, research and statistics as well as other operational duties within the police.
“The Anti-robbery units at the state and other command levels handle armed robbery cases and other violent crimes. Homicide unit handles murder and manslaughter cases. The X-Squad monitors police conduct, etc.
“They were doing and can still more effectively do the work that these extra-legal units created to duplicate their duties do. All they need are the funds, equipment, training, and motivation of personnel to enhance their professional and operational efficiency and capabilities,” the group said.
The coalition said the right equipment, training, and motivation of officers are enough to revive traditional units within the force and help them carry out their legally assigned functions.
They noted that most of the specialised units are created by successive Inspector Generals of Police (IGPs), who sideline the traditional units by creating new units which leads to a breakdown of the line command of the Force.
“The untoward result is the complete breakdown of discipline, promotion of patronage, cult personality, mischief, incompetences, loopholes, etc. All this has now constituted an unbearable albatross that has and is still weighing down the Nigeria Police Force today.
“It has turned out that over the years, police authorities use the so-called specialised units for special self-serving purposes. They use wrongful and brutal methods of ‘law enforcement’ and engage in extortion and outright robbery. Some IGPs have been reported to get returns and shares from the proceeds of the criminal activities of the commanders and operatives of these rogue units,” the groups said.
The coalition urged the Nigeria Police Force to disband the “suspiciously privileged extra-legal units and allow the Nigeria Police Force return to the legally recognised departments and units, thereby making this quintessential establishment live up to its true bidding as civil Force created by law.”
They added that the police force must stay within the ambits of the law that established it for it to be seen as lawfully discharging its responsibilities which will increase public confidence in the force.
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