Transcript of "Lead Debate By Senator Gbemi Saraki On The Floor Of The Senate Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria On The Police Tax Fund Bill"
Lead Debate by Senator Gbemi Saraki on the Floor of the
Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the Police Tax
I led a debate on the 2nd reading of my Bill on the Police. I was
advocating for finding a way of helping the Police. This Bill will soon be
rejected by the Senate and therefore killed. It is nothing personal on
my part, but I strongly believe that we, lawmakers and indeed
Nigerians in general should stop criticizing and find a solution - yes,
my Bill might not be the answer, but come up with alternatives.
Below is the text of my speech delivered on the floor of the Senate.
A young lady arrives at home in Port Harcourt after spending hours in
traffic. In the few seconds that it takes her security guard to recognize
her car and open the gate, she is ambushed by three armed men. She
is dragged out of the car and pushed onto the back seat. One attacker
sits in the driver's seat, one in the passenger seat and another in the
back set next to her. She is manhandled in the car. IN an act of sheer
desperation, she rolls out of the moving vehicle and runs for her dear
life. Her attackers drive off unimpeded. Luckily for her and her family,
these attackers did not intend to add rape and murder to armed
robbery that night. She arrives, panting with torn clothes and with no
shoes at a police station where she is informed that the police have no
credit on their phone and certainly, no working land line so she can
not call home. And as for getting home, the police station had no
vehicle to its name.
Distinguished Senators, passengers on an eighteen-seater bus going
towards the Obalende area of Lagos were ambushed by co-travelers
who attacked them, demanding cash and mobile phones. Those who
resisted were unceremoniously shot. There are reports of robberies
killings and kidnappings on a daily basis on major roads in Lagos.
Many of victims are innocent commuters who boarded the nearest
available form of public transport. No one can distinguish commuter
operators from armed bandits, ritual killers and kidnappers and so
when victims report these attacks they are told by the police to thank
God for their lives. These words are more appropriate for the clergy
but in the face of of an utter inability to apprehend criminals, words of
comfort are all that the police can offer. In attacks on banks and
bullion vans, policemen are the casualties while robbers escape with
No sector of society is exempt. In 2006, a fourteen year old French girl
traveled to Nigeria on holiday. On her way to the airport, she was
raped by armed robbers. A rash of break-ins at homes of foreigners
culminated in an attack on a supermarket frequented by expatriates by
men armed with AK-47 rifles. This prompted a re-evaluation of
security by diplomatic missions who then called upon the government
to address this issue.
The Bill seeks to boost the funding of the NIgerian Police through the
collection of an annual Police Tax. The Bill seeks to impose a 2% tax on
the profits of all registered companies in Nigeria. Like the Education
Tax Fund which was established to halt an alarming decline in the
education sector, tax assessed and collected by the Federal Inland
Revenue Service (FIRS) would be administered bad disbursed by the
fund for the benefit of the Police.
What comes to that come to mind when we say the word "Police"?
These are sort of comments one hears:
* They are bribe-takers, who harass motorists for change in the
* The organisation is synonymous with corruption.
* They are time wasters, who are not trained
* They are ill-equipped to tackle crime.
* They are a nuisance and burden to society
* And basically, they only care for themselves.
What do we expect from Police?
* Democracy is dependent upon basic safety and public security
* In an ideal word the Police balance the inter-play of rights between
* Naturally, we expect the Police to prevent crime. Should crime occur,
we expect them to solve it.
* We expect them to protect our lives and our property. They are our
first and last resort in times of crisis.
* They should be our friends, our protectors and the immediate
enforcers of morality in society.
Bearing all these expectations in mind, what should the role of the
*Section 4 of the Police Act (CAP P14 LFN) 2004 provides five broad
functions for the Nigerian Police Force, namely:-
1. Crime Prevention
2. Detection and Apprehension of offenders
3. Preservation of law and order
4. Enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly
charged. These include laws and regulations made by federal, state
and local governments and lastly
5. Performance of such military duties within or outside Nigeria as may
be required of them by, or under the authority of this or any other Act.
COnsidering what we think of the Police, what we expect of them and
the role they ought to play within society, can we with all sincerity say
we have adequately empowered the police? Are these expectations
founded and our thoughts justified?
FACT: Then Nigerian Police Force consists of 313,184 policemen and
FACT: Approximately 150,000 of these are attached to banks, oil
companies, telecommunication companies, private corporations,
politicians and any individual who can afford them.
FACT: The general public believe that Government and its officials pay
lip service to security issues because they already have 150,000
policemen and women to protect a maximum of 2,000,000 people?
FACT:This leaves approximately 163,184 policemen and and women to
serve and protect the lives and property of a 138,000,000 Nigerians.
FACT: The total number of vehicles available to the Nigerian Police
Force is 8,218.
FACT: Of this number, only 6,118 are serviceable.
FACT: In most countries, the Police accounts for 25% of the national
FACT:This is the percentage Nigeria has allocated to the Police Force
from 1981 to 2007:
1981 - 4%
1982- No figures available
1984 - 3.9%
FACT: The Federal Budget of 2008 makes a provision of N199 Billion
for the Police Force
FACT: 82% of that (N163Billion) is allocated to personnel costs
FACT: Each police man is supposed to have three sets of uniform
FACT: Each set costs N15,000
FACT: The Police budget for uniforms is N2.8 billion
FACT: Simple mathematics shows us that in order to provide the three
sets of uniform per policeman, the Police needs N14.08 Billion as
opposed to the current N2.8 Billion
FACT: A police constable in South Africa earns N60,000 per month.
FACT: Constables in the ECOWAS sub-region earns as follows:
Benin Rep N50,000
FACT: Our Nigerian Police Constable only last year had his salary
increased from N8,000 to N26,000 though it only became effective in
March 2008 under this new Government.
FACT: Currently only 8% of all policemen in the country are
FACT: Even where barrack accommodation is provided, the facilities
are dilapidated one room chalets, often with no toilet facilities.
FACT: Falomo Barracks has been turned into a slum. Come night-time,
the kitchens and corridors are turned into make-shift bedrooms.
FACT: Some of these barracks are in such a state of sheer filth that
they should be demolished immediately in order to sanitize the
environment they are located in.
In view of developments in the responsibilities and workload of the
police coupled with the dangers to which they are exposed, the growth
of crime and threats to public order, these are shocking statistics
However, these hard facts do not address the human cost. The Police
have some of the most dysfunctional families among occupational
groups in the country. The poor salary and welfare package given to
officers has undermined their social status, morale and self-esteem. A
lack of post-retirement opportunities has also prevented the police
from competing effectively in the labour market for the best and
brightest that a nation can offer. One of the major problems faced is
the societal welfare programmes in the areas of housing, car loans,
pensions and health insurance. The need for Police participation in
these wider national programmes is imperative.
Our constitutional right to security has turned into an empty promise
and those who can, literally take law and order into their own hands.
Constitutionally, Nigeria has a Police Force but in reality we have State
and privately-run mini forces with States building police stations,
providing rudimentary equipment such as cars and ammunition. On a
smaller scale, banks, oil companies, private organisations and
individuals do the same thing. Those fortunate private individuals who
can afford it literally have to place a policeman in their cars to feel safe
on the streets then they return to homes patrolled by policemen on
But how did this happen? How did we get to this point?
The collapse of this vital instrument of internal security is commonly
attributed to corruption. Such a submission trivalises the scale of the
problem. This rot can be traced by successive military administrations.
The military, fearing that the Police was the only sector within society
who could have successfully resisted them, deliberately desecrated the
Police. They intentionally under-funded them whilst spending lavishly
on the other Armed Forces. They applied the principle of "divide-and-
rule", thereby subdividing the Police Force by carving out various
agencies that we all know ought to come under the Police. Thus
duplicating the functions of the Police, resulting in diminished
funding, as resources hitherto meant for Police had to be diverted to
fund these new institutions. This had created conflict and confusion in
the public safety and security arena with these agencies often working
This also poses a serious challenge to the constitutional provision
which stipulates the existence of only one Police Force with a provision
that the National Assembly could legislate on the creation of branches
of the Police Force and not separate entities doing police work. This
could be interpreted to mean that these bodies are unconstitutional
since they are not branches of the police.It is clear that the laws of
some of these agencies stipulate for them to perform the functions of
the NIgerian Police. But let us leave that debate for another day.
This might explain why we only 140,000 policemen at the return of
civilian rule in 1999. This might also explain why today, the Police
Force can not provide basic facilitates for its personnel to discharge
their duties; and they are weighty duties indeed. How can the Police be
expected to protect our lives and property when they are outgunned
by sub-machine gun wielding robbers with a gamut of high-tech
gadgets? Where the Police have guns, they lack ammunition. They lack
means of communication; they have no walkie-talkies to radio for help
and back-up. Criminals are highly organised whereas the simple
transfer of an officer from one part of the country to another is rife
with problems. Firstly, the hapless officer would be expected to cover
the costs of his transportation to his new post. He would then be
responsible for arranging his own accommodation. It is a miracle that
we still have these men and women who don their uniforms and do
their best in these straitened circumstances.
We all agree on the unfortunate state of the Police. Practically every
Nigerian has observed or been direct or vicarious victims of the decline
of the Police Force, especially police officers themselves. We are
witnessing a rising wave of violent crime. Huge proceeds from illegal
bunkering activities in the NIger Delta "419" crimes, counterfeiting,
fraud, inflated public and private contracts, traffic in dangerous drugs,
money-laundering, amongst others, have provided avenues and
resources for the trafficking in illegal firearms. Besides, our porous
borders and ineffective customs control have aggravated these
At such, weapons from peace-keeping operations, thefts from police
and military armouries and those purchased with the proceeds from
bunkering activities have now inundated the nation and are used by
criminals to terrorise the populace and raise the general societal fear
of crime. These violent criminals have constantly engaged the Police
with sophisticated weapons, killing and maiming them at will. Several
interests still aid and abet violent crimes in Nigeria. Socio-economic
and socio-political breeders of violent crimes seem more active in
Nigerian society than ever before.
The four main problems with the Nigeria Police Force have been
2. Quality of personnel flowing from methods of recruitment;
3. Training and training institutions;
4. Public safety and public security management which is a function of:
a) Well- trained and motivated personnel
b) Communication and information
In order to address these problems, there have been numerous reform
committees in recent years whose reports and white papers have been
left to gather dust. These include:
* Inspector-General of Police Panel (MD Yusuf Panel) - 1995
* Vision 2010 - 1997
* Professor Tamuno's Presidential Panel on National Security - 2002
Presidential Committee on Police Reform (Danmadami Committee's
* MD Yusuf Presidential Committee on the Reform of the Nigeria Police
Force - 2008
All through various reports, there is one constant: statutory budgeting
alone can not bring the Police to the 21st Century where it is able to
tackle crime, The current MD Yusuf Presidential Committee has
estimated that the amount of money that is needed to bring the Police
Force into the millennium is N4 trillion. Back in 2001, under the
Ministry of Police Affairs, a Five-Year Development Plan was produced.
It looked at general, legal, institutional and logistical framework of the
Police. The cost implications were enormous and plan was abandoned.
Seven years later, the problem persist. For how long will we delay the
It is our duty to correct all social ills, particularly those of this
magnitude. If we, as law makers have no faith in our abilities,
capacities, and the potential greatness of our country, we might as
well go home. It is evident that thus far, measures provided for the
funding of the Police by the Constitution and subsidiary legislation
have done nothing to stem the rapid decline of the Police into the
farcical butt of jokes or objects of pity or contempt. Rather than to
bemoan the fact that things are not as they ought to be, it is
imperative that we find solutions such as the one propose herein.
The required level of investment indicates that it will take a concerted
effort from all three tiers of government as well as the private sector to
provide a functioning Police Force. Judging by figures provided by the
ETF, in 2006 2% of the assessable profits of companies amounted to
the sum of N27.73 billion. The Fund can expect to attract the same
amounts. While this represents a drop in the ocean compared to the
vast amounts that are required, every penny counts and the private
sector must be enlisted in this effort.
It is being suggested herein that successful companies are punished
by the extraction of more taxes. The fact is that these companies are
already paying for police services. It is interesting to note that during
the last administration, oil companies were once willing to create their
own arms-bearing security force, going as far as to seek Presidential
approval. This was rejected as armed employees of multi-national
companies amount to a usurpation of Nigerian's sovereignty. Any
individual, company or State government , who employs a police
officer, supplies equipment, builds police stations or so much as buys
one set of uniform is subsidizing the Police Force. The premises of this
Bill is to make these piece-meal subsidies cohesive, organised and of
maximum benefit to society in general.
As representatives of the people, it is incumbent on us to ensure that
our Police Force is empowered financially, technically and logistically
to prevent and solve all crimes committed against all Nigerians. Our
constitution dictates that security should not be the preserve of a
Tempting as it may be oppose the allocation of funds to a body that
has been smeared by corruption, inaction on our part for whatever
reason will have dire consequences. The Bill contains mechanisms to
avoid these pit-falls which would be buttressed by stringent over-
sight. While a representative of the Nigerian Police Force will sit on the
Board of Trustees as proposed in section 4 thereof, the key officers
namely the Chairman of the Board and Executive Secretary will be
persons with extensive private and public sector experience, rather
than police officers.
The task of capacity building remains persistently neglected as those
empowered to act pass the buck or look the other way. Distinguished
Senators, we are amongst those who are so empowered. We have
observed Executive initiatives and the resultant model of poor police
service leadership. The Judiciary plays its own punitive/rehabilitative
role. The recent Police Equipment Fund scandal illustrates the
limitations of the private sector in this regard. In order to avoid the
perils of inadequate or non-existent regulation and lack of
accountability a Fund should only exist under a legal frame-work. It is
the turn of the Legislature to show its commitment to addressing
rampant crime; a major scourge in all our various constituencies.
British Prime MInister, Gordon Brown is quoted in an address to their
Police Force as follows:
"There is no greater responsibility than that which you as police
officers accept ....... it is clear why we as a government have a duty to
provide you with the support and protection to back you in what you
have to do and be there for you - because you are always there for us"
I urge you, Distinguished Senators to support the police in their efforts
to protect the law-abiding many from the law=breaking few. Let us
grasp this opportunity to display the importance which the Legislature
attaches to preventing and tackling crime, I trust that I speak for us all
when I say that it is our shared vision to restore law and order to our
country. In our recent past, corruption in Government was rife and
unchecked. Today, empowered agencies would give pause to anyone
with such tendencies. We have seen deterrence and punishment at
unprecedented levels. Thus, I make bold to say that our national vision
of security and fearlessness is possible and even likely.
I, therefore, urge you all to give this Bill your full support and move
that it be read a second time,
Senator Gbemi Saraki