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Implementation, impact of Police Trust Fund on Police operations

The implementation of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) Act was the focus of a recent discussion at a Stakeholders’ Roundtable organised in Abuja by Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) and Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN) in partnership with Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJi). Aside from reviewing the implementation of the act, the group also tried to assess its impact on police operations.

The event was attended by over 18 participants drawn from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Police Affairs, Nigeria Police Force, the National Human Rights Commission, Civil Society organisations, the media, and the private sector. The Executive Director of RULAAC, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma, explained the objective of the meeting. According to Mr. Nwanguma, in order to address perennial underfunding of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) was created by an Act of the National Assembly in 2019 to provide an additional funding source for the NPF.

He explained that the NPTF Act also establishes the NPTF Board of Trustees, which will be liable for investing money accruing to the Trust Fund, setting policies for training and retraining of personnel of the NPF, among others. He also said: “The Act exempts the Trust Fund from the payment of income tax on any income accruing from investments made by the Trust Fund.” It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, Establishment, Bill into law on June 24, 2019, while the Board was eventually announced on May 6, 2020 after a one-year delay. In May 2021, it was two years after President Buhari signed the NPTF into law and thus it became necessary to assess the application and impact of the Police Trust Fund on police operations.

It was against this backdrop that RULAAC in partnership with Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) initiated an intervention to interrogate how far the NPTF has achieved its set purpose of filling the funding gap and enhancing the operations of the NPF. The intervention was aimed at promoting transparency and accountability through independent scrutiny and interrogation of the application of the resources of NPTF and to disseminate information on the budget of the trust fund.

The duration of this intervention was from May 15, 2021 to November 30, 2021 Among other ambitions, the project set out to interrogate the often-repeated problem of lack of funding for effective policing particularly against the backdrop of recent escalating crises of safety and security in Nigeria. Beyond the NPTF, the project also set out to collect and collate information on the recent attacks on police personnel and installations across the country – paying special attention to Imo, where the most recent seemingly well-coordinated attacks were witnessed. Nwanguma said: “This intervention reviewed progress, or lack of it, in the implementation of the mandate of the NPTF with a view to ascertaining impact and making specific recommendations.

This project builds on prior interventions with respect to building synergy between the police and communities in the Southeast of Nigeria, and monitoring the implementation of a 2020 directive of Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police to officers to minimize arrest and detention on account of simple offences.” Nwanguma, who is also a human rights activist, explained that two researchers were engaged in Imo State in May 2021 to research on the attacks on Police infrastructure in the state and the operations of the Police Trust Fund (PTF) since inception and to write a report with recommendations on how to improve operations. According to the participants, if the Trust Fund had been handled less like a ministry and more like a private sector company, this would have been addressed much more quickly. “The PTF will have a very limited influ-ence if it is managed by civil servants, who have a culture of caution and a lack of focus on outcomes which could be highly harmful for the country,” Nwanguma opined.

In addition to these provisions, the Act makes it clear in section 20 that the Fund shall maintain a bank account into which shall be paid all funds. The question whether it should be free of the TSA system which would subject it to another layer of control outside the Fund structure is not addressed in this section. The group recommended that there was an urgent need for an amendment to the Act. The lack of regulations about who is designated as Chairman of the Board of Trustees was one issue that has to be addressed immediately.

In terms of leadership, the process starts, when board meetings are called, and so on, there is a substantial gap. The group further recommended that: “The PTF should be independent of the police and government bureaucracy, and its beneficiaries may not have authority over it. The Lagos State Security Trust Fund has taught us this lesson. As in the case of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, the Trustees, who should be independent of any beneficiary control in decision-making in accordance with the Law of Trusts, should make the decisions.

The Act’s financial and fiscal provisions are precise enough that the Fund should activate them instantly; a more elaborate explanation of some of the phrases, such as “levy” and “net profit” in section 4(1) (b), might be handled by amend-probing the Act.

There is a need to investigate and identify all barriers, as well as to amend the Act establishing the trust fund.” It was also recommended that the staff of the Fund should not be civil servants seconded from different ministries but rather people with experience in accounting, quality control, supply chain management and procurement It was also learnt that RULAAC tracked information on budgetary allocations, releases and other sources of funds for the NPTF and engaged the NPTF and relevant stakeholders on its findings and concerns.

One of the key outputs of the Roundtable was a Policy Brief which summarizes the purpose, structure, composition and operations of the NPTF since its inception, the challenges and obstacles to its effective application and recommendations on how to improve its effective application and impact on police operations. It also set out the road map for enhancing the operations of PTF. RULAAC and its partners have through these engagements created awareness of the NPTF, while also awakening and keeping the managers of the NPTF on their toes, aware that the budget and implementation of the PTF Act were being monitored and tracked by civil society and the media. Nwanguma promised that RULAAC will continue to lead civil society efforts in tracking the budget of the NPTF and to generally monitor the implementation of the NPTF Act to ensure transparency and accountability.




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