Lead Debate by Senator Gbemi Saraki on the Floor of the
  Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the Police Tax
    ...
comfort are all that the police can offer. In attacks on banks and
bullion vans, policemen are the casualties while robber...
enforcers of morality in society.

Bearing all these expectations in mind, what should the role of the
Police be?
*Section...
budget.

FACT:This is the percentage Nigeria has allocated to the Police Force
from 1981 to 2007:

1981 - 4%
1982- No figu...
FACT: The Police budget for uniforms is N2.8 billion

FACT: Simple mathematics shows us that in order to provide the three...
have some of the most dysfunctional families among occupational
groups in the country. The poor salary and welfare package...
of the Police Force and not separate entities doing police work. This
could be interpreted to mean that these bodies are u...
and socio-political breeders of violent crimes seem more active in
Nigerian society than ever before.

The four main probl...
have done nothing to stem the rapid decline of the Police into the
farcical butt of jokes or objects of pity or contempt. ...
persons with extensive private and public sector experience, rather
than police officers.

The task of capacity building r...
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Lead Debate By Senator Gbemi Saraki On The Floor Of The Senate Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria On The Police Tax Fund Bill

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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"

  1. 1. Lead Debate by Senator Gbemi Saraki on the Floor of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the Police Tax Fund Bill 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 1
  2. 2. comfort are all that the police can offer. In attacks on banks and bullion vans, policemen are the casualties while robbers escape with millions. 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 streets. * 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 management. * In an ideal word the Police balance the inter-play of rights between individuals * 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 2
  3. 3. enforcers of morality in society. Bearing all these expectations in mind, what should the role of the Police be? *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 women 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 3
  4. 4. budget. FACT:This is the percentage Nigeria has allocated to the Police Force from 1981 to 2007: 1981 - 4% 1982- No figures available 1983- 10.7% 1984 - 3.9% 1985- 3.5% 1986- 3.6% 1987-2.2% 1988- 2.4% 1989- 2.5% 1990- 3.1% 1991-4.5% 1992- 4.2% 1993-3.2% 1994-5.1% 1995-6.5% 1996-5.6% 1997-4.9% 1998-6.8% 1999-7.6% 2001-3.4% 2002- 3.3% 2003-4.03% 2004-3.6% 2005-5.3% 2006-4.5% 2007-7.7% 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 4
  5. 5. 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: Cameroon N45,000 Ghana N45,000 Mali N45,000 Benin Rep N50,000 Senegal 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 accommodated. 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 indeed. However, these hard facts do not address the human cost. The Police 5
  6. 6. 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 their pay-rolls. 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 at cross-purposes. 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 6
  7. 7. 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 problems. 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 7
  8. 8. 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 identified as: 1. Funding; 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 c) Mobility 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 Report) -2006 * 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 inevitable? 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 8
  9. 9. 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 privileged few. 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 9
  10. 10. 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, Thank You Senator Gbemi Saraki 10

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