Nigeria may yet witness a bigger version of the #ENDSARS# protests against police misconduct if no concrete legislative frameworks and legal mechanisms are enforced to bring about a special crimes court to try erring police/security operatives who deploy torture and extrajudicial execution of citizens in custodial facilities or elsewhere.
HURIWA lamented that for months the judicial panels on the #ENDSARS # panels have sat endlessly without achieving any effective closure to the thousands of cases of police extrajudicial executions just as it is business-as-usual in the Nigerian police force with increasing cases of police brutality and killings being recorded with no end in sight.
Speaking against the backdrops of massive allegations of increasing use of crude policing tactics across the Country, the leading Pro- democracy and Civil Rights Advocacy group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) expressed bitterness that the Police Service Commission (PSC) has become a collosal failure and is only just existing as a ‘cash cow’ to pay allowances to politically exposed friends of the powers- that –be.
“It is such a sad episode to notice that extralegal killings have assumed a pastime for rogue security operatives and especially the police and this ugly social phenomenon has continued only because impunity and lawlessness have endangered professionalism and discipline in the Nigeria Police Force even with an institution like the Police Service Commission set up to instill discipline on Police officers up to the rank of deputy Inspector General of Police.
HURIWA specifically condemned the Nigerian Police Force over the recent illegal execution of the 18-year old girl Monsurat Ojuade in Ijeshatedo, Surulere Lagos by a rogue Police Operative.
HURIWA condemned the police for throwing into mourning, the family of the 18-year old girl, Monsurat Ojuade, who was allegedly killed by a team of detectives from the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Lagos, in Ijeshatedo, Surulere area of the state, last Friday.
The Rights group reminded the IGP that the family understandably is crying for justice and asking Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and top echelon of the force to ensure that their daughter does not die in vain.
HURIWA recalled that Miss Monsurat, the last born in a family of four, an admission seeker, who scored 236 in the last Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to study Accounting at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Osun State, was killed by a trigger-happy policeman inside their house at No 53, Mogaji Street, Ijeshatedo.
HURIWA citing media reports recalled the true story by the Mother of the teenager in which she narrated how the police ended the precious life of the teenager thus: “They were about to close the shop when they noticed people running helter-skelter. The duo hurriedly left the shop and ran inside our compound. I was washing clothes beside the well when they ran inside the compound. I asked them why they were running but they told me they just saw people running and had to join them. I hurriedly ran towards the gate to ensure the gate was locked, thinking it was the one million boys that were on rampage as usual. But while myself and two other people were locking the gate, an unidentified person, which we later discovered to be one of the detectives, was forcing the gate open from outside. But we later succeeded in locking the gate. Seeing that he couldn’t succeed, the man immediately started shouting ‘I will shoot ooooo,’ he was still shouting when Monsurat left me and her sister to call his father who was inside the house. The policeman saw the girl as she was running inside the house because there was light, he pointed the gun through the gate and shot. When I heard the deafening sound of the gun, I quickly removed my hands from the gate and started rolling on the ground thinking I was the one hit by the bullet. I peeped through the gate to see who the person was; it was a policeman in black cloth covered with military camouflage. Tall and lanky, he didn’t stop after the shooting. The bullet hit her contrary to the position of the police through a statement signed by the Public Relations Officer, Adekunle Ajisebutu, on Sunday that Monsurat was killed by a stray bullet; my daughter was intentionally killed by the policeman.”
The Rights group in a media release endorsed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, recalled the reassuring words of President Muhammadu Buhari during his recent parley with heads of security institutions in which he vowed never to condone professional misconducts amongst Security Forces.
“Against the background of this constructive affirmation of President Buhari, we in the organized Civil Rights family in Nigeria are appealing that the government put out sustainable judicial and legislative reforms aimed at the amendment of section 6 of the 1999 Constitution to bring into being the creation of a special crimes court at par with the Federal High Court to try indicted security operatives who carry out acts of torture and the use of extralegal killings of Civilians to avoid the imminent implosion that would signal the biggest national protests against the Police in the Country. Section 6 stated thus: (1) the judicial powers of the Federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established for the Federation. (2) The judicial powers of a State shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established, subject as provided by this Constitution, for a State. (3) The courts to which this section relates, established by this Constitution for the Federation and for the States, specified in subsection (5) (a) to (1) of this section, shall be the only superior courts of record in Nigeria; and save as otherwise prescribed by the National Assembly or by the House of Assembly of a State, each court shall have all the powers of a superior court of record. (4) Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this section shall be construed as precluding:- (a) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly from establishing courts, other than those to which this section relates, with subordinate jurisdiction to that of a High Court; (b) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly, which does not require it, from abolishing any court which it has power to establish or which it has brought into being.(5) This section relates to:- (a) the Supreme Court of Nigeria; (b) the Court of Appeal; (c) the Federal High Court; (d) the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (e) a High Court of a State(f) the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;(g) a Sharia Court of Appeal of a State; (h) the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (i) a Customary Court of Appeal of a State;(j) such other courts as may be authorised by law to exercise jurisdiction on matters with respect to which the National Assembly may make laws; and (k) such other court as may be authorised by law to exercise jurisdiction at first instance or on appeal on matters with respect to which a House of Assembly may make laws.(6) The judicial powers vested in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section – (a) shall extend, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this constitution, to all inherent powers and sanctions of a court of law(b) shall extend, to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any persons in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person; (c) shall not except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act of omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution; (d) shall not, as from the date when this section comes into force, extend to any action or proceedings relating to any existing law made on or after 15th January, 1966 for determining any issue or question as to the competence of any authority or person to make any such law.
HURIWA said the President needs to take concrete and comprehensive steps to end police extrajudicial killings because it has become a global matter which which the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings wrote in a report after visiting President Muhammadu Buhari inSeptembe 2019 even as the Rights group said emergency actions to end police brutality is needed now much more than before to stave off the imminent National protests against the security forces.
The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard has said thus: “The overall situation that I encountered in Nigeria gives rise to extreme concern. By many measures, the Federal authorities and the international partners are presiding over an injustice pressure cooker. Some of the specific contexts I examined are simmering. The warning signs are flashing bright red: increased numbers of attacks and killings over the last five years with a few notable exceptions; increased criminality and spreading insecurity; widespread failure by the federal authorities to investigate and hold perpetrators to account, even for mass killings; a lack of public trust and confidence in the judicial institutions and State institutions more generally; high levels of resentment and grievances within and between communities; toxic ethno religious narratives and “extremist” ideologies – characterised by dehumanization of the “others” and denial of the legitimacy of the others’ claims; a generalised break down of the rule of law, with particularly acute consequences for the most vulnerable and impoverished populations of Nigeria.”
The Rights group said immediate legal and legislative reforms to sanction erring police officers for the use of extralegal killings was necessary because in international law, instruments against extrajudicial killings includes; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (BPUFF), United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials (CLEO), Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, UN Model Protocol for a Legal Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and summary execution.
HURIWA recalled that in Nigeria, some of the laws against extrajudicial killings include; the 1999 Constitution; the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Act (both applicable in the Southern States in Nigeria); the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code (both applicable in the northern states in Nigeria); the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA) and Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) in states that have domesticated the ACJL; the Nigeria Police Act and Police Force Order 237.
HURIWA said even the nation’s Police Force (NPF) has revised its Force Order 237. Force Order 237 is a police policy manual that sets out guidelines on the use of firearms and lethal force. The revised manual aggregates international and national laws applicable in Nigeria on the use of firearms and lethal force. The revised Manual prescribes instances where the use of firearms is authorized and instances where the use of firearms is not authorised. It also prescribes individual responsibility for unauthorized use of firearms or lethal force. Other security agencies in Nigeria can benefit from the Revised Police Force Order 237 including the Armed Forces when called upon to aid civil authorities to restore order.
“In the words of experts instances when the use of firearms/lethal or potentially lethal force is authorised
In the Revised Force Order 237, the police is authorized to use firearms/lethal or potentially lethal force in the following circumstances (a) When attacked and there is an imminent threat that the police officer will be killed or seriously injured, and no other means are available to avert or eliminate the danger of saving his/her life. (b) When defending a person who is attacked and he/she believes on proportional grounds that he/she cannot otherwise protect that person being attacked from imminent death or serious injury; (c) When necessary to disperse violent assemblies, but only when there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury, and less extreme measures are insufficient. (d) If he/she cannot by any other means arrest a person who being in lawful custody escapes and takes to flight in order to avoid re-arrest. Provided the escapee poses a threat of imminent death or injury to the police and innocent persons; (e) If he/she cannot by any other means arrest a person who takes to flight in order to avoid arrest. Provided his/her escape poses an imminent threat of death or serious injury to the police or innocent persons; and provided the offence for which the person is escaping from is such that is a “particularly serious crime involving imminent death or serious injury.”
“Instances when the use of Firearms/lethal or potentially lethal force is unauthorized
The police is not authorized to use firearms/lethal or potentially lethal force in the following circumstances: (a) If an officer reasonably believes that an alternative to the use of deadly force will avert or eliminate an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm, and achieve the law enforcement purpose at no increased risk to the officer or another person; (b) Use of firearms for warning shots either to summon assistance or to give signals or to warn a fleeing felon to stop; (c) Firing at or from Vehicles; (d) Pointing of Firearms at Persons. So says legal expert “.