The German Government has offered to train men of the Nigeria Police Force in the management of protests without the use of lethal weapons.
To this end, a high-level delegation from Germany on Tuesday visited the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Musiliu Smith, to seek areas of collaboration on police training, reform and other issues.
On 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, a retired Inspector-General of the German Federal Police, Matthias Seeger, ex-CSP Gerd Baltes, retired SP Horst Schewe and former SP Wolfgang Nikolaus.
The team had earlier visited the force headquarters where they interacted with the IG, Usman Baba.
Seeger, who was the leader of the delegation said it would be a great start for the police if his team could train the new crop of recruits into the Nigeria Police on best practices.
The retired IG, who had 40 years of policing experience under his belt, said the police did not deploy weapons in 99.9 per cent of protests that happened in Europe.
Seeger stated, “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.
The retired IG said 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, noting that this was his vision.
But the German’s position on the management of protests without the use of firearms was quickly countered by Smith, who said Nigerian protesters were usually armed and law enforcement agents mostly have to defend themselves from assault.
He 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 IG argued that the personnel cannot manage protests without bearing weapons, adding that they needed to be well-armed for the safety of the citizens at the scene.