HURIWA: Nigeria’s Lawless Law Enforcers

We in the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA)just like millions of Nigerians who have no access to the media of mass communication are worried about the increasing spate of absolute lawlessness by operatives and officers of the various law enforcement agencies notably the Nigeria Police Force; the states security services; the EFCC and the military especially their lawless tendencies in the line of duty. Lawlessness and officer’s misconduct and loss of discipline is the fundamental cause of the degeneration of efficiency and effectiveness of the members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.  Just like the security breach into the Nigerian Defence Academy today by terrorists can be traced to lack of discipline hence these armed non state actors easily found a way of invading the NDA.

There is a sharp rise in the use of gestapo type operations by the EFCC; the SSS and the case of the Nigeria Police Force is that their services are now highly commercialized meaning that if you can pay, you can get armed police operatives to do your biddings no matter how unlawful, dreaded, Sinister and outrageous.

The Police operatives in some states commands notably in Imo State are known for framing up citizens and for fragrant violations of civil rights including the use of extra judicial killings on persons they suspect to belong to Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) or even persons whose rivals have procured the police to tag them as IPOB and kill them. IF WE MAY ASK, THE PUNISHMENT FOR BELONGING TO PROSCRIBED GROUPS IS IT DEATH BY EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS? HAS NIGERIA NO CONSTITUTION AND LAWS ANYMORE? WHAT DOES SECTION 36 (5) OF THE CONSTITUTION SAYS? Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty;

Provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes upon any such person the burden of proving particular facts.

Sadly, in a state like Imo, the State government is accused of enabling these various ramifications of abuses of powers by the Police.

The report of Amnesty International on killings by security forces in the South East with Imo occupying the principal place of dishonour is so disconcerting.

It is even so disconcerting that nearly a month has passed since Amnesty International meticulously wrote that well articulated compilation of stories of extra judicial killings, but till date neither the South East governors nor the usually noisy Lai Mohammed or Garba Shehu has reacted nor has the government ordered the enforcement or implementation of administrative or prosecutorial actions to deal with the Police Commissioners and officers noted for their use of extra legal executions. DOES IGBO LIVES MATTER AT ALL? WHY IS THE MEDIA GLAMOURISING POLICE OFFICERS WHO USE UNLAWFUL FORCE TO KILL SUSPECTS EVEN SUSOECTS THAT ARE ASLEEP?

We call on the Federal government and the South East governors to speak out on that Amnesty International’s report which is credible, truthful and tragically outrageous and to take action to punish offenders within the security forces or they should be prepared to be individually named in the litigation that are being initiated by many local and international NGOS before the ICC in the Hague, Neverlands.

We call on the Imo state governor to tell the World what he has done with the hundreds of detainees he accused of causing the disturbances in Imo State for which he named ‘politicians’ as sponsors of the disturbances.

On May 24th 2021, Mr. Hope Uzodinma said no fewer than 400 people were arrested over security threats in Imo State but months after no single prosecution is known to have happened or dear MEDIA COLLEAGUES DO YOU KNOW OF ANY PROSECUTION FROM THE MAYHEM THAT OCCURED IN IMO STATE? HAS ANY POLICE OR SOLDIERS BEEN PUNISHED FOR KILLING MANY IMSU STUDENTS THROUGH DELIBERATE CRIMINAL ACTS OR ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE?

The Imo State governor compensated Soldiers and Police families whose bread winners were killed by unknown gunmen but no a kobo has been paid to the hundreds of youths of Imo killed by security forces clearly identified in that Amnesty International’s report.

The police as an institution needs fundamental rebirth. NIGERIA MUST REFORM THE POLICE OR THE DEFORMED POLICE FORCE WILL PERMANENTLY DEFORM NIGERIA.

Police are hired for all kinds of jobs by those who can afford.

It is no longer a secret when individuals fight over land ownership, the rich amongst the disputing parties have found a way of hiring police from Abuja to deal with their rivals. Top rated officers are behind these rackets.

Cases of such abound all across the Country.

It was for these abuses that gave rise to #ENDSARS# protests for which panels were set up and most of these panels have made far reaching recommendations with most of them giving binding judgements for compensation running to almost N200 billion.

Nigeria needs to reform the law enforcers and the Institutions of law enforcement or else these unprofessional operatives will ruin Nigeria financially.

With over N200 billion damages to be paid out, these huge financial burden could have been avoided if the police is sanitized.

EFCC is in the news. SSS is in the news. First why are they DSS when the law identifies them as SSS?  WHAT DOES IT COST THE NATIKNAL ASSEMBLY TO LEGISLATIVRLY REBAPTISE SSS AS DSS SINCE THAT IS THEIR PREFERRED NAME.

Then why are the EFCC  and DSS using same style like armed kidnappers and breaking down peoples doors just to effect arrests and most had ended up as mistakes? WHY ARE THEIR NO ACCOUNTABILITY AND NO OFFICERS ARE PUNISHED FOR WRONGFUL EXERCISE OF POWERS OR EXCESSES USE OF FORCE?

SSS invaded supreme court to arrest allegedly corrupt judges when Buhari came newly to power.

However not one of those justices were convicted and one of them died thereafter from depression related issue. Yet they were not corrupt as accused.

We do not know who allegedly captured Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB in Kenya but there are allegations of illegal rendition and torture which are offensive to international law. WHY IS THIS CHARGE NOT BEING INVESTIGATED?

The SSS invaded Sunday Igboho’s house and neighbours told the media that they were kidnappers but SSS hours later owned up.

On 22nd July 2021: Nollywood filmmaker, Biodun Stephen narrated how operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, broke into her hotel room around 3.00am while she was sleeping.

Stephen, in an Instagram post said she slept in a hotel while filming last week and that she opened her eyes a little past 3.00am to see two men dressed in black weapons.

According to her, she sprung up without thinking and shouted “stay right there!!! Who are you?”

Stephen said they replied that they were EFCC, saying that her head sparked.

She added: “Are you kidding me? You enter into my room unannounced? EFCC: Madam, we knocked but no response. You decided to enter my room? You should have kept knocking.”

Stephen explained that she was sleeping like every normal person would and that one of them just opened his mouth and said: “Where is the man of the room. I was confused at first. The who? He replied: ‘your partner.”

“Anger well up inside me…Is this one roving mad man? His partner realised his folly because he quickly apologised. ‘You are not the one we are looking for.’”

Stephen said she watched as they interviewed guests rudely and arrested a few, adding that they knew the people they were after.

She said she lost sleep afterwards.

“Then I heard, this is the new thing with EFCC. They burst into hotel rooms in the middle of the night. Not caring who you are, in what state you are.

“I mean, the hotel is a really decent one so I couldn’t understand how this could happen. They alleged that the EFCC barrages their way in…A mess I tell you,” she said.

yesterday, Monday the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), broke into the apartment of former BBNaija contestant, Dorathy Bachor.

This was made known on her Instagram story as she lamented the sad incident.

Narrating the incident, Dorathy expressed frustration at how unsafe it is to be a Nigerian.

On her Instagram story, she said: “I feel like my head is about to explode.

“What is the need of being a citizen of this country when I can’t feel safe in my own house? It’s 5am and I am literally shaking and so upset right now.

“At 4:35 I heard a loud sound and voices followed after, I rushed out almost naked to see five fully armed EFCC men in my living room and one of them saying ‘Oh na that Big brother babe be this’.

“In my confused state I was trying to understand what in the hell was going on, why did they break down my door.

“Then one of them said they were looking for someone who ran into the estate and I should lock my door and stay indoors and not say a word.

“I’m shaking at this point and so confused because how exactly is this even okay.

“Still shaking, I’m trying to close my already broken door when my sister screamed my name and I ran back upstairs to see my mum almost having a panic attack. @officialEFCC, on God, you had no right.

“I have never felt so helpless in my whole life. @officialEFCC, you now break into people’s houses and jump estate fences all in the name of doing your job. Shame on you all, shame. You put a gun at people’s heads and threaten their life in the name of doing your job.”

Then yesterday EFCC said thus: The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been drawn to a post on Instagram by one Dorothy Bachor, alleging that operatives of the Commission broke into her home in the early hours of today, 23rd August, 2021

The Commission can confirm that operatives from the Lagos Command of the Commission, acting on verified intelligence, executed a Search Warrant at a block of flats located in the Lekki area of Lagos on Monday, 23rd August, 2021 during which nine internet fraud suspects were arrested.

Ms. Bachor’s apartment happened to be one of the flats in the building. EFCC operatives had knocked on her entrance door, identified themselves as being from the Commission on a mission to execute a Search Warrant. But they were refused entry, for several minutes by Bachor’s sister. The operatives were left with no choice than to force their way in, lest suspects escape or destroy vital evidence.

It is important to state that law abiding citizens have no reason to refuse the execution of a validly obtained Search Warrant. And, contrary to the information making the rounds in the social media, Ms. Bachor was not present during the operation and the anti- EFCC stories about her coming out half-naked among other fantastical details appear to have been invented to fit the pattern she and other internet-fueled stars so desperately want to push about the EFCC.

It is important to reiterate that nine alleged internet fraud suspects were apprehended in the block of flats housing Ms. Bachor’s apartment.

THE QUESTION IS WHY NOT LAY SURVEILLANCE AND THEN TAKE STEPS IN THE EARLY MORNING TO ARREST THEM INSTEAD OF INVADING THE HOUSE LIKE KIDNAPPERS?

From Benue State or so there is a story that the NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION Chairman was slapped by the EFCC officers who went to arrest a suspect who then called her lawyer. There was a story that the Chairman boasted to a certain NBA chieftain that EFCC and the courts are paddy paddy. EFCC denied it.

Amidst all these misconducts, the Police Service Commission and National HUMAN Rights commission are deeply in slumber.

 

Nigeria has just enacted a new Police Act and the provisions are some of the finest for which we should commend President Buhari.

 

However, these good provisions are violated by Police.

We call on National Assembly to adopt the codes of conducts contained in the 2020 Police Act to be applied to all law enforcement authorities and there should be consequences for abuses of these laws.

 

 

Reportedly, the Nigeria Police Act, (2020) came into force on September 16, it was signed by Nigeria’s President Muhamadu Buhari and repeals Police Act of 2004.

The general objective of the new Act as written by a legal analyst is to provide an effective police service that is based on the principles of accountability and transparency, protection of human rights, and partnership with other security agencies.

The author recalled that before the enactment of the act, many civil societies and non-governmental governmental organisations assiduously pushed for its passing through the harmonized police bill. This was with the view of creating better police built on respect for human rights, accountability, and professionalism in its operations.

Is the Nigerian Police Act (2020) an answer to the problems of impunity within the Nigerian police force? Asked the analyst. Does it proffer solutions to the constant yearnings of the citizens? Does it create room for the protection of human rights?

An understanding of the nuances of the act and the powers given to the police will help to unravel these questions.

Here are things You Should Know About the Police Act

While the old Police Act had 11 parts and 69 sections, the Nigerian Police Act (2020) has 17 parts and 145 sections; with 76 new sections.

The new Act has the objective of providing for a police force that is more responsive to the needs of the public and has its operations entrenched in the values of fairness, justice, equity, accountability, co-operating and partnering with the communities it serves; and also to uphold the fundamental rights of citizens.

While one might be quick to assume that much has changed in the act, Emmanuel Ikule, the National Coordinator of the Network for Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) said nothing “remarkably” has changed.

Section 4, Part 11 of the new act gives wide powers to the Nigerian police, while section 38 of the Act gives powers to arrest without warrants, powers to arrest suspects on reasonable grounds of suspicion, among others.

Commenting on the wide powers given the police, Mr Ikule said: “the officers of the Nigerian police have more often than not used the wide powers bequeathed under section 4 of the police as succour and an easement for trampling on the rights of common men.”

“The defence to all claims of breach of human rights is usually answered with “section 4” which gives wide powers,” he said.

Mr Ikule added that Section 38 providing for police officers to arrest without a warrant; “effectively ends the right to be assumed innocent; one of the founding principles of the 1999 constitution”.

He added that the powers to arrest without a warrant are wide and remain the root cause for many unlawful arrests and detention made by the Nigerian police.

Furthermore, section 38(1)(a) of the Nigeria Police Act (2020) provides that;

Section 38(1)(a) of the Police Act 2020 provides that “a police officer may without an order of court and without warrant arrest a suspect whom he suspects on reasonable grounds of having committed an offence.”

Although the Act in section 54 clarifies that reasonable grounds shall not include; personal attributes such as a person’s dressing, colour, age or hairstyle and stereotypes images of certain persons being likely to commit offences, an expert said this power is bound to be abused by the police.

“Considering the very nature of some Police officers to abuse their powers, it is not very unreasonable to complain that the powers are too wide and subjective, but we also have to reasonably understand that these wide subjective powers are necessary to prevent crime and keep everyone safe,” he said.

 

Again HURIWA IS ADVOCATING THE ADOPTION OF THESE CODES OF CONDUCT AS GENERAL CODES OF CONDUCT FOR MEMBERS OF ALL ARMED FORCES OF NIGERIA. 

 

COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO:

NATIONAL COORDINATOR. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Total
1
Share