UVA seeks protection for artists on the frontline at a discussion on the local policing environment, oversight and accountability needs
Unchained Vibes Africa (UVA) has articulated the immense contributions of socially engaged artists to the development of democracy in Nigeria, the risks they face and the need for better policing environment. The UVA Research and Advocacy team stated this at a recent event aimed at strengthening the oversight and accountability mechanisms of the Nigerian Police Force. The event was organized and hosted by the Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN) in partnership with the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as part of the projects supported and funded by the United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the United Nations Peace Building Fund (PBF). The event which was held on Thursday 30th March 2023 at Dover Hotel Ikeja in Lagos, had in attendance UVA Research and Advocacy team members Tolulope Olowoyo and Prince Adeola Goloba who represented the voices of the artistic community.
There were representatives of various NGOs and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Human Rights Bodies and Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos State Chapter, leaders of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) as well the Media who all contributed to the discussions. Speakers included the Deputy Commissioner of Police and head of the Complaints Response Unit (CRU) in Nigeria, DCP IB Markus; representatives of the UNODC Mr. Saka Azimazi and Mr. Pierre Boczmak.
There were two discussion sessions at the meeting. The participants were separated into three discussion groups where each group identified a group-lead and rapporteur to discuss and present their findings with all participants at the end of the meeting.
The coordinator of the meeting, Mr. Saka Azimazi revealed that “The aim of the discussion was to bring together civil society organisations, community leaders and the media to exchange views on the local policing environment, including community-police relations and the nature of complaints received against the police, and to discuss potential avenues for strengthening police oversight and accountability”.
The UVA team shared information about the work of the organization in the area of leveraging the power of the arts in promoting civic education, good governance, and advocacy for reforms in government’s policies, actions and laws that hinder artistic freedom of expression. The team shared examples of violation of artistic freedom and the central role regularly played by the police. The team further made recommendations that would aid police oversight and accountability.
At the end of the event, the conveners pledged that the findings from the groups’ presentations would be looked into, and the recommendations made would be duly considered in the ongoing reform efforts aimed at improving the local policing environment and strengthening police oversight and accountability. Civil Society Organizations were encouraged to work together in order to achieve a common goal in this regard.