COVID-19: IGP Unveils New Operational Guidelines, Takes Steps To End Police-Public Conflicts.

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, on Monday unveiled operational guidelines for the police and other law enforcement agencies on COVID-19 prevention enforcement duties.

The guidelines were developed in collaboration with CLEEN Foundation and the United Kingdom High Commission as per of measures to foster a more harmonious relationship between the Police and members of the public, deepen respect for the rights of citizens, provide a new set of policing tools for tackling emerging crimes such as domestic violence, rape, child molestation and other incidents of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Unveiling the guidelines at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, the IGP noted with concern the increase in reported cases of domestic violence, rape, defilement, cybercrimes among others linked with the COVID-19 restrictions.

These unfortunate incidents, he said, have prompted the introduction of this Operational guideline which will help to adequately coordinate and reshape the conduct of personnel of the Force and other law enforcement agencies on the frontline of operations in the enforcement of the COVID-19 prevention orders.

The guidelines would also serve as a standard code of conduct for Police officers in similar operations in the future.

The IGP also ordered the strengthening of the Gender-Desk Units and the Juvenile Welfare Centres (JWCs) across the country and the deployment of investigative assets to deal with gender-related offences. In addition, the Cyber-crime Unit of the Force has also been strengthened to deal with cyber-crimes connected with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assistant Inspectors-General of Police and Commissioners of Police in Zonal and State Commands as well as Heads of Police Departments/Formations were directed by the IGP to make the subject of the guidelines of departmental briefings and lectures.

The Operational Guidelines will also serve as a training manual in all Police training institutions.

The IGP equally charged the Force Provost Department, the X-Squad, the Force Public Relations Department, the Complaint Response Unit and the Public Complaint Bureau to carry out their oversight roles of adequate evaluation and monitoring of officers to ensure compliance with the Guidelines and bring erring personnel to book.

He also enjoined citizens to cooperate with the Police and other Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) as all hands are on deck to curtail and contain the virus in the country.

The IGP expressed appreciation to the Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, and the representative of the British High Commission for their contributions and presence during the unveiling of the Operational Guidelines.

He also commended all other corporate organizations that supported the Police in the publication of the booklet.

Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Benson Olugbuo, said it was necessary to work in collaboration with the Nigerian Police Force and other partners including the United Kingdom High Commission to develop the guidelines to ensure that security agencies who are deployed to enforce the lockdown and restriction of movement act within the provisions of the constitution and the provisions of the Police Act and other extant regulations.

He said the guidelines also dealt with the issue of security agencies as those on the frontlines and the need for adequate protection for them as well.

“It is not just restricted to the police but also other security agencies. You are aware that at the beginning of this lockdown, there was a lot of human rights abuses between security agencies and the civilians and we found it necessary to start this work in collaboration with the Nigerian Police Force and other partners including the UK High Commission to develop these guidelines to ensure that secuirty agencies who are deplyed to enforce the lockdown and restriction of movement act within the provisions of the constitution and the provisions of the Police Act and other extant regulations.

“The idea is to remind them that although they are enforcing the lockdown, there are also human beings. There are on essential duty and can also be affected by the virus. What should Nigerians do when they are confronted with this? This booklet says a lot. Who do we report to, who is accountable and what should be done. It has a kind of 360 responsibilty. What should be the responsibility of police officers, what should also be the responsibilty of citizens. It is not an issue of them against us. But all of us working together to beat the pandemic,” he said.