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By Emmanuel Edom
In line with the provisions of the Police Act 2020, the Acting Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, has promised to establish Complaints Response Unit, CRU , across Police Commands Nation Wide.
IGP Egbetokun said that CRU of the Nigeria Police Force is meant to promote accountability and enhance police community collaboration and not to witch-hunt police personnel.
The Acting Inspector General of Police, who was accompanied by DIG, FCID, Abiodun Alabi, AIG Zone 2, Mohammed Ari Ali and other members of the police top hierarchy, warned Police officers at his maiden visit, to stop extortion, unethical and unprofessional conduct.
While addressing officers and men of the Lagos State Police Command on Wednesday, before unveiling the Complaint Response Unit of the Command, he noted that the CRU
is a framework for promoting police-citizen accountability, and a centre for the receipt of complaints on police officers’ inadequacies, coordinate immediate response, facilitate investigations and disciplinary processes where necessary, and render feedback to citizens.
Egbetokun,who also commissioned a state of the art hospital at the Squadron 22 of the Police Mobile Force (MOPOL 22) headquarter, urged members of the public to cooperate with the police by giving information about the misconduct of police personnel.
He appealed that the inadequacies of its personnel should not be reported on the social media but to CRU.
The CRU was built with support from former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Olumide Apata (SAN), Airtel Nigeria and 9mobile, for public complaint against any unethical conduct of Police officers in Lagos State.
IGP further stated that aside from being a platform for complaints against Police conduct, it would serve as a veritable channel for people to report crimes with incident numbers generated to enable tracking of such issues.
He said: “The unit would promote accountability and enhance police-community collaboration. We always appeal to the public to cooperate with us and give us information, but we also have to show transparency to be able to get that.
” The new policing vision is about emplacing professionally competent service driven,and people-driven police that would support the agenda of the government in its efforts towards economic recovery and growth, as well as social and political development of our country.
“We don’t want actions of police officers reported on social media. You must show honesty and demonstrate to the public that you are men of integrity.
“Officers manning this unit were carefully selected, they are those with impeccable integrity; and would be trained continually, including overseas training. We will improve the unit and make it functional,” he stated.
He also approved the allocation and release of five patrol vehicles and two trucks from those parked at the Police College field to Lagos State Police Command, one of which will be dedicated to the operations of the CRU and others deployed to enhance the operational capacity of the Command in dealing with current and evolving crimes.
On his part, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa, said the initiative was not meant to witch-hunt police officers as they would also be duly protected, and their rights fully asserted if their dignity is also violated or false and malicious information passed against them by misguided members of the public in the line of official duty.
According to him, the establishment of the centre is a fulfillment of statutory provisions that is intended to enhance police accountability and engender professional police service delivery, rather than witch-hunt or unduly malign dutiful officers.
“We want to enhance Police/community collaboration and the CRU is needed to achieve all of these. At least, members of the public, who have complaints against the Police, now have a place to lodge their complaints.
Egbetokun also assured Nigerians thus ” we are going to make the CRU functional in all the states of the federation. Lagos State has started. We just commissioned one today. We inspected the facilities and they are excellent.”
Reiterating his warning against extortion, unethical and unprofessional conduct, IGP reminded them that policing actions must be geared towards building trust and getting necessary support needed from the people.
At the event, Rights Activist, Femi Falana (SAN), lauded the initiative, stressing that it was in line with the provisions of the Police Act, 2020 and promised to sponsor the establishment of four CRUs in four different states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), praising the IGP for being an exemplary officer in the 34 years he had known him with no negative report heard.
He also warned Police officers on the conduct because the establishment of CRU, their activity will be monitored on their relationship with members of the public.
“Torture has become a serious offence. It now attracts 25 years imprisonment and if the suspects dies, whoever is involved will be charged with murder.”
“Very soon, we are starting visitations to Police stations. Every month, the Chief Magistrate will visit every Police station in Nigeria. And during the visit, the Magistrate can grant bail, order the arraignment of a suspect or ask the suspect to go home completely,” he said.
Akpata, who solicited more support for the Police to effectively execute their jobs, pledged to build two more CRUs at Delta and Edo State Police Commands.
President, Women Arise, Dr. Josephine Okei-Odumakin, also keyed into the partnership, promising that her organisation would undertake the training and retraining of the personnel to be deployed at the CRU.