RULAAC blames Buhari for late commencement of work by Nigeria Police Trust Fund


…Lists obstacles to smooth running of the Trust Fund

The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has blamed the delays by President Muhammadu Buhari in constituting the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund as required under the Act as responsible for the late commencement of work by the Police Trust Fund.

The Executive Director, RULAAC, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma who stated this in a media briefing on the assessment of the implementation of the Police Trust Fund Act 2019 held in Lagos today recalled that the Police Trust Fund had a lifespan of six years in the first instance, after which, it would seize to exist except it is renewed by an Act of the National Assembly.

Nwanguma observed that the Board of Trustees was supposed to be inaugurated immediately the Act came into force but it took one year to inaugurate it just as it took the President one year or so to appoint his Ministers.

He noted that a body that had six years already lost one year because the President was foot dragging and when he eventually constituted the Board, he filled it with party loyalists and acolytes. He went on to say that the Trust Fund cannot work as presently constituted.

The Executive Director further pointed out that the first challenge to the early commencement of the Police Trust Fund was that no office space was provided for it as according to him, the office they were using now was donated to them by the Nigeria Police Force.

“That tells you that there is no seriousness on the part of government to make sure that it works. Secondly, the staff of the Trust Fund are not people trained to do the work of the Trust Fund, they are people taken from various ministries who have no idea about what the purpose of the Trust Fund is and then, bureaucracy. Unless this Trust Fund is insulated from bureaucracy, unless it is allowed to operate like a Trust Fund the way the Lagos State Security Trust Fund is operating with speed, ability to intervene and fill gaps, nothing can happen. You can’t have a situation where you have a Board of Trustees, you have an implementation committee and you have other committees and then, you have the Executive Secretary at one level, you have the Board of Trustees at another level and you have the National Executive Council at another level.

“The Police are the beneficiary, so, it should be insulated from Police control. The IGP has no business being a member of the Board of Trustees; it should be separate from the Police. Unless these issues are addressed, I don’t see anything happening and this is why we are making this intervention to highlight these challenges and to call on the National Assembly to see the need to begin to review the Act establishing the Nigeria Police Trust Fund.

“We keep doing this and hope that more importantly, the National Assembly will listen to what we are saying and understand that the Act is faulty and it needs to be amended and that the President will be interested in ensuring that these changes are made to ensure that the Police Trust Fund works without too much bureaucracy”, he said.

Making a comparison between the Lagos State Security Trust Fund and the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, he said, “The different between the Lagos State Security Trust Fund and the Nigeria Police Trust Fund is that the Lagos State Security Trust Fund is private sector driven; it is not dependent on government. It has an implementation committee that has the powers to take decisions immediately. Once there is a problem, they are able to respond to it immediately without having to go through the State House of Assembly or through the Governor. They have independence, they also have auditors, they also account. They have town hall meetings periodically where they give account to the private sector which is contributing the fund.

“Compare it with the Police Trust Fund, it has a Board of Trustees, it has an implementation committee and it has other committees.  Now, the Board of Trustees cannot take quick decisions, it has to go through layers of bureaucracy which makes it difficult to see it as a Trust Fund. Trust Fund is about speed. So, bureaucracy slows down, you find a situation where, for example, the Police is the beneficiary organization but the Police is a member of the Trustees. The Minister of Police Affairs has a lot of influence on the Board of Trustees. It shouldn’t be so. It has to revert to him for certain decisions.

“These are structural problems such that layers of authority even to access the funds and the composition of the Board does not meet the requirements of Federal Character.  It is filled up with party loyalists. The Chairman of the Board of the Trust Fund is a retired Inspector General of Police. What is the justification for making a retired Inspector General of Police Chairman of the Fund? What experience does he have in financial management?

“Now, the Executive Secretary who I understand has been having power tussle with the Chairman of the Trust Fund is also from the same part of the country and he was an aide to a former governor or so and he is also an APC member. So, it is all a party affair. People who should run the Trust Fund should be people who are selected based on their qualifications, competence and suitability not based on political consideration or partisan interest.

“So, these are all obstacles that will not allow the Trust Fund to work and like I said, if you look at the Lagos State Security Trust Fund and look at the Police Trust Fund, you will see the sharp difference, you see why Lagos is working and this one will not work.”

The media briefing was done in partnership with Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI).

Photo: L-R: RULAAC Account Officer, Nkechi Ochulor, Executive Director, RULAAC, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma and Beatrice Ojukwu of Crime Victims Foundation during the media briefing on the assessment of the implementation of the Police Trust Fund Act 2019 held in Lagos today.

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