Gun-wielding security agencies to undergo psychiatric and drug tests, the Federal Government said yesterday.
Besides, those who are serving in the armed forces and the allied agencies will go through such tests periodically.
This is one of the measures taken by the government in the aftermath of last year’s #EndSARS protests.
Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed announced this yesterday in Abuja.
Yesterday was the first anniversary of the widespread protests by some youths against brutality by policemen especially men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protest snowballed into violence which led to the destruction of various government and private properties runing into over a trillion naira.
In Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan and some other cities, some youths held rallies and processions to mark the anniversary. There was no record of margin violence at any part of the country.
Speaking in Abuja, the minister, who itemized other remedial measures by the government in response to the call by the youths, said the Federal Government’s nine-reform plans for police and other security agencies.
He said “of 28 states that set up panels of inquiring on the #EndSARS protests have limited their reports to the National Executive Council (NEC).
Also yesterday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo urged the youths to participate in politics to effect the desired changes in government.
Mohammed, who addressed reporters in Abuja, said the reforms were aimed at enhancing the efficiency of security agency.
He said the said: will insist on adhence to the rules of engagement and use of cutting edge technology in the fight against crimes.
Mohammed added: “NEC called on the leadership of the security agencies to ensure that persons recruited into arms-bearing security agencies undergo psychiatric evaluations and drug tests before enlistment and periodically after enlistment to ensure that the personal are psychologically, fit to carry live weapons and to identify behavioural tendencies that may require psycho-social intervention’s.
Other reforms are: “Persons recruited into arms-bearing security agencies undergo psychiatric evaluations and drug tests before enlistment and periodically after enlistment to ensure that the personnel are psychologically fit to carry live weapons and to identify behavioural tendencies that may require psycho-social interventions.
“Personnel of the agencies dutifully observe Rules of Engagement in the discharge of
their functions/duties around and within the civilian populace.
“While acknowledging the various initiative introduced by the Federal Government to strengthen police accountability through the Police Service Commission, sustain improved funding and budgetary allocation to the Nigeria Police Force and other securities agencies, and the lifting of the ban on recruitment of police officers, Council urged the Federal Government to give priority to the general welfare of police officers and personnel of other security agencies. In particular, it advocated the review of pension and gratuity of retired police officers and attainment of parity of remuneration by police officers with sister security agencies.
“Undertake a comprehensive assessment of all police stations across the country with a view to ensuring that they are fit for purpose.
“Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies should deploy cutting-edge technology in the fight against crimes.
“Nigeria Police Force to, in line with the mandatory training provisions of the Police Act 2020, prioritize training of Police Officers on procedures for the entrenchment of human rights provisions guaranteed by the constitution and on the professional handling of weapons.
“All those detained by the Police as a result of the EndSARS protests are expeditiously processed with due regard to the principles of fair hearing.
“The system established within the Nigeria Police Force for receipt and handling of complaints or petitions is strengthened, and all police officers on duty should be in police-approved uniform with their full names and force numbers boldly written for easy identification.
“The states should, as resolved by NEC:
– Properly utilize and support the community policing programme of the Federal Government, with active collaborative efforts and participation of traditional rulers, elders, youths, vigilante groups, etc.;
– Establish standing committees under States Ministries of Justice to address human rights violations on a continuous basis; and
– Take measures aimed at flushing out miscreants squatting in uncompleted buildings, and other blackout spots that serve as hideouts for criminals.
The minister highlighted the actions already taken by Federal and state governments to address the grievances that led to the 2020 protests, including:
the disbandment of SARS; establishment of judicial panels of inquiries to investigate allegations of human rights violations by the police and other security agencies; the setting up of Victims Compensation Funds from which many victims have received payments of sums awarded to them by the panels; and prosecution of police personnel indicted by the panels.
Mohammed said 11 of 28 states that raised panels have submitted reports to the National Economic Council (NEC).
He said all those indicted by the various judicial commissions will face trial.
The minister however, described the alleged massacre at Lekki Toll Gate as “phantom.”
He said the six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families lamenting that the human rights organizations ignored the casualty figures.
He said: “Out of the 28 States, 11 States (Abia, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, and Rivers) have submitted their final reports to the National Executive Council (NEC). Governors of other States have also indicated that their reports would be submitted soon.
Osinbajo, who spoke at a virtual forum with Nigerian Fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, said youths should embrace politics.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr Laolu Akande, Osinbajo said the transformation of society is largely dependent on the actions and decisions of those who occupy public offices.
He said: “You need to go the extra length if you are not already involved, get involved in politics—while a lot can be achieved in civil society, government still holds the ace in terms of capacity and resources to bring social goods to the largest numbers.
“Besides, being deciders instead of pressure group at the table in policy formulation are hugely different positions. The consummation of our great ideas to transform our societies ultimately will depend on “those politicians” as we sometimes derisively describe them.”
Osinbajo added: “African nations and especially our country, cannot afford to have its best minds and most committed social activists remain only in the civil space. No, we simply can’t afford it, you have to get involved in politics. You have to be in the position to make the difference on the scale that is required.
“Of course, there are many who will not be involved in politics but those that are inclined should, and there will be many challenges even in the winning or getting heard in politics. But I want to say to you that it should be an objective that you should set for yourselves, to get involved at whatever level of politics so that you can make the difference on the scale that is required.”