A high-level delegation from Germany, which visited the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Musiliu Smith, specifically said it was willing to train the new crop of recruits into the Nigeria Police Force on best practices on street protest management.
The team, led by a retired Inspector-General of the German Federal Police, Matthias Seeger, had earlier visited the force headquarters where they interacted with the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba.
Other members of the delegation were the Deputy Director for West and Central Africa, German Federal Foreign Office, Mr Alexandre Callegaro; the Police Adviser at Stabilisation Unit, German Federal Foreign Office, Mr Sascha Weh; ex-CSP Gerd Baltes, retired SP Horst Schewe and former SP Wolfgang Nikolaus.
Seeger said, “I think the best is, for a start, if you want to build a house, you start with the basement. You focus on very few things, may be two or three. All the demonstrations we had in Europe, there are very few unique situations where police use their weapons; 99.9 per cent, no weapons.
“So, we offer to train for best practices. You have a great chance when you train 30,000 young women and men to become policemen, you take the best. It’s a big chance for you now when you train young people. This the future of the police of Nigeria, so you train them well from the first moment.”
The retired senior officer stressed that there were many policing experts in Germany willing to support the reformation of the Nigeria Police, adding that he was ready to engage with the authorities on the training modalities and start as soon as possible.
But the German’s position on the management of protests without the use of firearms was countered by Smith, who said Nigerian protesters were usually armed and law enforcement agents have to defend themselves from assault by the protesters.
The PSC boss stated, “Let me draw your attention to one issue. When we have protests or demonstrations in this country, it would not be fair to compare it to the ones in Europe and I have my reasons for this.
“For the last five, 10 years, what the men had to face in such situations, I think they have to be well prepared if they value their own lives. They need to be well-armed, well prepared so that if they tried all other means of dispersing them or making arrests, they may take some decisions or sometimes, some persons get hurt.
“But on a few occasions, they are forced to use weapons not only to save their lives but the lives of innocent citizens around the area. So, I don’t think they are totally handling demonstrations very well, there is a lot of room for improvement.”
The former IGP maintained that the personnel cannot manage priests with weapons, adding that they needed to be well-armed for the safety of citizens at the scene.