NB 247

Nigeria’s Police Service Commission(PSC) has stated reasons why the Nigeria police must be well armed to quell street protests.

Chairman of the commission, Musiliu Smith, who gave the reasons, said quelling protests without arms was impossible because protesters in Nigeria were usually armed.

This is coming against the proposal of the German government to train 30,000 men of the Nigeria Police Force on how to manage protests without using lethal weapons.

The German delegation paid a visit to the commission on Tuesday, where discussions bothered on the need to train Nigeria police officers to better respond to street protests as obtained in other developed climes.

The German delegation led by a retired Inspector General of the German Federal Police, Matthias Seeger, hinted that it was interested in specifically training the new crop of recruits into the Nigeria Police Force on best practices on street protest management.

“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, maybe 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,” Mr Seeger said.

“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 is the future of the police of Nigeria, so you train them well from the first moment.”

But Mr Smith was quick to challenge the position of the German, saying that the because Nigerian protesters were usually armed, law enforcement agents must defend themselves against assault.

“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,” he argued.

“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 German delegation earlier visited the force headquarters where they interacted with the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba.

Also on the delegation were the Deputy Director for West and Central Africa, German Federal Foreign Office, Alexandre Callegaro; the Police Adviser at Stabilisation Unit, German Federal Foreign Office, Sascha Weh; ex-CSP Gerd Baltes, retired SP Horst Schewe and former SP Wolfgang Nikolaus.

The retired IG said there were many policing experts in Germany willing to support the reformation of the Nigeria Police and was willing to commence the training as soon as possible.

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