The 36 state governors have also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, who warned his personnel against the use of force on protesters yesterday, to consult widely before taking further decisions on SWAT.
The governors pointed out that even though SWAT might be necessary and in good faith, the timing was inauspicious as the outfit may understandably be misinterpreted as a surreptitious move to dress FSARS in another garb.
After a meeting with the 36 states’ governors, Adamu was advised to halt further proceedings on the proposed SWAT until consultations with all stakeholders were done.
According to a communique of the meeting between the governors and Adamu, which was signed by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), and the Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the governors stated: “The timing of the creation of SWAT is inauspicious as the mood of the nation negates it and may understandably be misinterpreted as a surreptitious move to dress FSARS in another garb.
“Governors agreed that there was a need for greater consultation with the public before any decision is taken; “Governors advised the IG to immediately convene a meeting of all stakeholders and agree on a format of engagement with all state officials in order to address concerns; and that state leadership should meet simultaneously nationwide, to address matters arising.”
It added: “The governors were unanimous in their support for the IG and endorsed his plan to carry out far-reaching reforms geared towards greater effectiveness, accountability and transparency; members called for increased regularity in the meetings of the Nigeria Police Council in order for it to effectively carry out its regulatory and supervisory roles as contained in the Nigerian Constitution.”
The communique stated that the governors emphasised that reforms must include the training and retraining of operatives on the rules of engagement with the general public, adding that policing in Nigeria must ensure freedom for all Nigerians to carry out their lawful and legitimate businesses anywhere in the country without fear of harassment, intimidation or molestation.
The governors advised that throughout the reform process, the room for consultation may include sessions and direct feedback from the public, stressing that there is no single solution that applies to all the 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
It said: “The governors were unequivocal that all police officers who participated in the abuse or actions that might have led to injury or the death of innocent citizens must be fished out and brought to book while other Nigerians who have been adversely affected by police brutality or other actions that were injurious to them or their loved ones, should be compensated.”
They recommended that the IG, the Police Service Commission and the Nigeria Police Council should immediately review the remuneration and emoluments of police officers and explore ways to fund this in order to incentivize and motivate police officers who have pledged themselves in service of the country.
According to the communique of the meeting, Adamu said that the SWAT would be strictly intelligence-driven and that it will be constituted to carry out tactical operations across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
It said the IG informed the governors that after a psychological and medical evaluation, SWAT officers will be trained and posted to all state commands – about 50 per state, where they will operate only on intelligence-driven operation.