…We’re committed to bridging the gaps, Says Coordinator

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria ( NOPRIN) Foundation has ended its two day Northwest Youth and policing Summit on Strenthening the police Reforms in Nigeria project, with a call to bridge the gaps in Youth and Police relations

Held on ‘Thursday- Friday in Kaduna, the project is Supported by the MacArthur Foundation, with the CLEEN Foundation among others as partners

The Nat. Coordinator( 3rd left), former Chairperson ( 4th right) & team at the summit

Speaking to Journalists, the National Coordinator, Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria,( NOPRIN) Foundation Mr lkule Emmanuel said ” the summit is one of the programs under the police reform agenda for the country, but on this particular project, we have alot of activities, but this particular program we are holding in Kaduna is the third youth and policing summit in the country

” so this one in Kaduna is organized for the Northwest, we had that of South-south and Southeast, after this, we’ll be going to Bauchi for the NorthEast, to Benue for the North central and Lagos for the Southwest”

Speaking on the essence of the youth and policing summit, saying “over the years there have been issues of police abuse, police brutality, and who have been the direct “beneficiaries’ of police brutality? is actually the youths, who are the ones recruited into the police? , they are the youths

” but most times, all the summits, all the National summits on police reforms held, the youths have not been considered, their inputs have not been considered and they have not been part of the program and it means they have been neglected” he lamented

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According to him, they have identified this as a gap, ” so in order to bridge that gap and be able to bring the youths to work together with the police, because we observed that youths find it hard working with the police; there’s lack of trust and lack of working together and this is affecting the work of the police, adding that, the police themselves are not trusting the youths enough to work with them, as the youths are not trusting the police enough to defend them” he averred

He said ” instead they are seeing the police profiling them as ‘yahoo boys’ and all that, and so to address this gap, there’s need for holding policing summit like this, so that CSOs, Media practitioners and police can air out their views, on the issues that is bringing about this gap so that they can work together”

Speaking further on addressing this gap, he noted that every geo- political zones has its own percularities, ” so that’s why we are holding it in each zone, so in each zone, each group speaks about these gaps and puts forward practical ways to address these gaps according to how it’s been done in the zones and at the end of this summit we are going issue a communique, based on the inputs of participants”

” From here we are already looking at for two possible projects, we’ll be looking at capacity building, because most of the participants expressed interest on the need for capacity building for ACJL Kaduna state, for the students too, there is need to organize tertiary programs on human rights and anti-corruption.

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” to make them have direct interface with the police, adding that the outcome of discussion with the PPRO of police in the state will help facilitate this interface and success of the programs.

While describing the summit as a success,, said” we had representatation from the states in Northwest zone ‘ and their inputs we are going to use it for the good of states, For the northwest zone, we are particularly happy because a lot of persons are experiencing this for the first time and for them to make their inputs and concerns felt, so it’s good that we are moving in the right step and direction and the gaps that have been identified, we’ll see how we can as well bridge it ” he added

He stressed the fact that the Impact of the summit on the participants is unprecedented with the contacts of all the representatives in the states, and one representatives each from the CSOs and Schools,

” so these representatives also are like our contacts in those states, so with one person in the state, we have coordinators in all states now and all of them will be given a terms of reference, they will now reach out to other stakeholders in the states on the peculiar problems in the state as it relates to policing, security and safety

” but for Kaduna state we identified the need for capacity building already on the Administration of criminal Justice Law,( ACJL) a lot of persons are not informed, which the participants themselves have expressed concerns, noting that people are not also aware that we have representatives of thr Administration of criminal Justice monitoring committee, (ACJMC),

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” So Laws like ACJL have a committee to ensure that it’s being implemented and we have a representative here, in Kaduna” while the other states in the zone will follow accordingly, pointing out further that ” each of this states have different laws”

On her part, the Executive Director, Gender Awareness Trust and Former Chairperson of NOPRIN, Dr Lydia Umar while giving an insight on the police reforms over the years, said, there had been some improvement ” but not as much as we would love it to be, but when i started this work about 18 years ago, it was not even good as this”

Adding that, the Police is beginning to respond,” they are beginning to accept their own responsibility, to building trust with the community, I remember the late lnnocent Chukwuma in 2004-05 was the first to organize the police to go to US, to be trained in community policing,”

She however said that it’s a gradual process, ” you can’t have a total change , because the entire thing has to do with the system because the police are also Nigerians, they live among Nigerians and they see what is happening, they see how the policians are conducting themselves, you can imagine a police man attached to a senator and they see how lavishly they live” Stressing further that the Police are the product of the society they come from.

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