OPEN LETTER

OPEN LETTER KAYODE AJULO & CO. CASTLE OF LAW BARRISTERS / SOLICITORS/ CONSULTANTS/ ARBITRATORS/ NOTARIES BN 2028223

KACCL/LET/AS/04/01 1st April, 2021

H.E Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu,
The Executive Governor of Lagos State,
Lagos State.

Your Excellency,

RE: APPROVAL OF BODY-WORN CAMERAS FOR OFFICERS OF LAW ENFORCMENT AGENCIES IN LAGOS STATE

IMPERATIVE OF A LEGAL AND REGULATROY FRAMEWORK; AN ULTIMATE PANACEA

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 I take the liberty to congratulate your Administration for always being a pace setter in policy development among other States in the Federation. Given your sterling track record in party administration, political discourse and leadership, I can rest assured that you are capable of steering the affairs of the largest commercial State in Nigeria.

1.2 Your Excellency, my felicitation is predicated on your approval of the body-worn cameras for officers of Law Enforcement Agencies in Lagos State which I strongly believe is an implementation of one of my recommendations on the compulsory use of body-worn cameras by Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria.

1.3 There is no gainsaying the fact that the recent clampdown, brutality, harassments, killings and inhumane treatment of Nigerian citizens especially the youths by some dark section of the Nigeria Police Force have left much to be desired of same. All these acts which has finally led to a backlash, clearly arose from men of the Force ignoring the rule of law and employing the use of force without basis/due process.

1.4 Consequently, these developments generated hues and hubris from different quarters and strata which later culminated into the #EndSars protest from Nigerian Youths, political pundits, lackeys, celebrities, and even in the international scene.

2.0 IMPERATIVE OF A LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

2.1 As a Legal Practitioner, Former National Secretary of a pro-masses leading Political Party and a pro-democracy advocate who has clamored for the emancipation of the principle of rule of law and good governance, I am further compelled to reiterate my stance through the auspices of Egalitarian Mission for Africa which I lead on the imperative to implement the compulsory use of body-worn cameras by Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria.

2.2 It is pertinent to recall that one of my recommendations during the #EndSars protect was the compulsory use of body-worn cameras for members of the Nigeria Police Force including other Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria.

2.3 It must be noted that the fight against desecration of the entrenched principles of rule of law and the reform of the Nigeria Police is a collegial responsibility. It may be further recalled that my development partners in the United Kingdom and myself volunteered as a commitment of faith to make available to the Nigeria Police Force, ex gratia, body-worn cameras to record the event of every engagement the Nigeria Police with the civil populace.

2.4 As a preliminary, it suffices to state that the litmus test for the determination of a great nation is good governance and good governance is characterized by open and enlightened policy-making, with an executive arm of government that is accountable, a strong civil society and a bureaucracy that is truly professional, all acting within the law.

2.5 The ingredients of good governance are inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, effectiveness, equity and the observance of the rule of law to ensure that the voices of all, including the most vulnerable in the society, are brought into the decision making process.

2.6 Nigeria as a developing country is still in the process of evolving a clear democratic political culture.

2.7 At present, a weak economic base, perennial unemployment, especially among the youth, women and other vulnerable groups and political instability have beset the country, worsened by a most disturbing problem of insecurity and lack of adherence to the principles of rule of law without which the growth of the nation would only amount to a mirage.

2.8 While commending Your Excellency for the gallant and giant stride in ensuring transparency and accountability in the Law Enforcement Agencies, however I am compelled to postulate that codifying the use of these body-worn cameras will immensely accentuate the effectiveness of same.

2.9 It suffices to state for the record that in policing equipment, body cameras or wearable cameras are essential in modern day policing and are used by law enforcement agents to record their interaction with the public. Aside being used to record crime, same is imperative to ensure police transparency and accountability which will ultimately check abuse of police and restore public confidence in their operations.

2.10 Interestingly, I believe the issue at hand is one which is etched on adequate legal framework by ensuring adequate codification of the compulsory use of body-worn cameras by ever official in the Law Enforcement Agencies both in Lagos State and in Nigeria at large.

2.11 While it appears that the use of ICT and digitalization of the activities of Law Enforcements Agencies may appear novel in our clime, it is instructive to note that the existing Legal framework in Nigeria support the use of ICT in the conduct of Law Enforcement Agencies. For instance Section 15 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015) provides for electronic recording of statement of suspects in a Video Compact format.

2.12 In conclusion, on the backdrop of the cyclical problems beleaguering the Nigerian Security Agencies in Nigeria, in lending my two cent, it is advised that the provisions of the new Nigeria Police (Establishment) Act, 2020, the Administration of Criminal Justice Law and the Administration Act, 2015 particularly Section 15 of the Act and any other enabling Acts should be amended to mandate compulsory use of body-worn cameras by officers of Law Enforcement Agencies in all their engagements with the civil populace and same should contain provisions for stringent punishment for any defaulting officer.

2.13 In addition to the above, failure to wear the body-worn cameras should invalidate any investigations conducted involving the erring Law Enforcement Agencies.

2.14 Your Excellency, please accept the assurance of my commitment and those of my Partners both in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom to lend our expertise and professionalism to ensure a safe, transparent and accountable Nigeria Security framework using the instrumentality of the law.

Yours sincerely,

                                                Managing Partner

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