NOPRIN Foundation Holds A Two-Day ‘Youths And Policing Summit’ In The South East

 

The Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN) Foundation, has held a two-day Youths and Policing Summit in Umuahia, capital city of Abia State, South East Nigeria.

Organized in collaboration with CLEEN Foundation, with funding support from MacArthur Foundation, the Summit which held on January 27 and 28, 2022 at Villa Roy Hotels, Umuahia, had in attendance representatives of various youth and civil society organizations from the South East.

In his welcome remarks, National Chairman of NOPRIN Foundation, Barr. Saviour Akpan, said that the Summit was organized to provide an opportunity for honest deliberations towards evolving meaningful and sustainable strategies aimed at making law enforcement agencies in Nigeria, particularly the Nigeria Police Force ‘to understand and work closely with youths and other segments of society in ensuring adequate provision of effective security services in partnership with their host communities, in a manner devoid of any form of antagonism and unnecessary profiling that often results in police-community violence’.

Barr. Akpan informed that NOPRIN Foundation is a coalition of over 50 civil society and human rights organizations and private individuals with the desire for an accountable service delivery by the Nigeria Police Force as the gatekeeper to Nigeria’s criminal justice system. He said that the Foundation, now spread across the six geo-political zones and 36 States of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, was established in the year 2000 as a platform committed to providing opportunities for civil society involvement in police reforms and the enhancement of safety and security in Nigeria.

He noted that prior to and especially after the ENDSARS protest in Nigeria, the relationship between youths and the Police has been less than cordial especially as youths are branded ‘internet fraudsters’ by the Police, creating the basis for use of brutal force and crude policing methods against youths.

Speaking further, Barr. Akpan said that the Summit, which was a part of the ‘Strengthening Police Reform in Nigeria Project’, was aimed at exploring ways of establishing sustainable structures to help reconcile the differences between youths and the Police following the ENDSARS protest which he described as ‘a demand from the civil populace on the Police to end brutal policing, and not a motif for persistent hatred between the Police and youths in Nigeria’.

Earlier in his remarks, National Coordinator of NOPRIN Foundation, Mr. Emmanuel Ikule, charged youths not to see the ENDSARS protest as an end in itself but to consolidate on the awareness it created to sustain their campaign for civil policing by keying into programs such as the Summit to boost their knowledge of the fundamental issues affecting quality service delivery in policing, as well as the essential skills and channels for coordinated, peaceful and effective advocacy for police reforms.

In his goodwill message, the Abia State Commissioner for Youth Development, Barrister Charles Esonu, commended NOPRIN Foundation and its partners for organizing the Summit, and pledged the support of his Ministry towards assisting Abia youths to actualize the objectives of the Summit. Barr. Esonu noted that Abia State under the leadership of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has been one of the most peaceful States in Nigeria due to the high premium that the governor placed on safety and security issues from the onset of his administration.

On their parts, the Police Public Relations Officers (PPROs) of Abia and Enugu States, CSP Geoffrey Ogbonna and ASP Daniel Ndukwe, lauded the commitment of NOPRIN Foundation towards sustaining the advocacy for Police reform, and urged Summit participants to interrogate the issues on the Summit agenda dispassionately and recommend pragmatic strategies towards improving civil-police relations in the interest of the country. CSP Ogbonna informed that, as part of his administrations drive to improve civil-police relations, the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Usman Alkali Baba had approved the establishment of a special unit for people with disabilities in the Force Public Relations Department and all Police Public Relations Offices across the country.

Following incisive paper presentations by distinguished scholars, participants went into breakout sessions after which reports and recommendations were presented on practical ways to improve relationships between the Police and youths, civil populace and host communities of Police formations across the country and South East in particular.

The two-day Summit was well-attended by representatives of youth and civil society organizations in the South East, NOPRIN Foundation officials, other stakeholders, media executives and special guests including the Abia State Commissioner for Youth Development, Barr. Charles Esonu; Comrade (Sir) Smart Uwakwe, National Vice-President, South East, National Youth Council of Nigeria; Dr. C. Jasper Uche of the Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Mr. Nnamdi Elekwachi; Dr. Freedom Onuoha of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Abia State Police Command, CSP Geoffrey Ogbonna; PPRO, Enugu State Police Command, ASP Daniel Ndukwe; Barr, Saviour Akpan, National Chairman, NOPRIN Foundation and Mr. Emmanuel Ikule, National Coordinator, NOPRIN Foundation.

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