By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
A prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group-: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has warned that targeted attacks of police operatives and facilities all across the Country may escalate unless the President Muhammadu Buhari genuinely, patriotically and statesmanly take verifiable, concrete, transparent and law based steps to clean up the Augean stable that the Nigerian Police Force has since metamophosed into.
The Rights group said it was not in anyway providing justification or endorsement of the coordinated attacks against facilities of the Nigerian Police Force by aggrieved citizens, but that it was worried that it is still business as usual at the top echelons of the Nigerian Police Force and the Central government as there is no deliberate effort to reform, reorganize, restructure and recalibrate the rotten institution of the Nigerian Police Force so the members and officers are forced to comply with the global best practices and adhere by the tenets and letters of the Constitution and the Nigerian Police Force Act of 2020.
The Rights group recalled some of the following targeted attacks in many parts of Nigeria thus: “March 3, 2021 unidentified gunmen in the early hours of Wednesday killed two police officers in Cross River State, Nigeria’s South-south, bringing to six the number of officers killed in the last six days in the state.
Four police officers were killed recently, on February 25, in Calabar, by some gunmen.
The police spokesperson, Irene Ugbo, who confirmed the latest killing, said the attack occurred in Obubra, in the central part of Cross River State.
“We lost two of our policemen, one is being hospitalised,” said Ms Ugbo, a deputy superintendent of police. On Tuesday February 23 2021 At least two police officers were killed when armed men invaded a police station in Aba, Abia State.An Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) and a Police Corporal were killed in the attack. On 19 February 2021 there was pandemonium in Effurn, near Warri, as gunmen again, killed a mobile policeman along the Airport Road and carted away his gun. Another mobile policeman on escort duty was killed last week in a Church at Otor-Ogor near Ughelli and his rifle taken away.Details of the Effurun incident was still sketchy at press time, but when contacted, the Delta State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Onome Onovwakpoyeya, confirmed the killing of the police officer. On Feb 22, 2021 unknown gunmen suspected to be cultists attacked a checkpoint manned by a Police detachment of the Quick Response Squad (QRS) in Akwa Ibom, killing one Police Inspector, while others escaped in hails of bullets. On February 6, two policemen were said to have lost their lives and scores injured when suspected bandits attacked Umulowo police division in Obowo local government area of Imo state. January 10, 2021 Gunmen on Friday night attacked a police station in Ebonyi State, killing three police officers. Two others sustained bullet wounds in the attack on Onueke Police Station in Ezza South Local Government Area of the state”.
The Rights group said in a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf that the Nigerian President has also compounded the spectacular public image FIASCO of the Nigerian Police Force by his recent wholly unconstitutional and illegal extension of the tenure of the office of the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu even after he has reached the retirement age as specified by the newly amended NIGERIA POLICE ACT 2020 which the President Muhammadu Buhari personally signed into law.
The Rights group said the message passed by the unlawful decision of the President in the tenure extension of the IGP which violates an extant law is that the institution of the Nigerian Police Force can as well remain as filthy, unpopular, undisciplined and the members could remain as unprofessional as most NIGERIANS perceived the Nigerian Police Force to be.
HURIWA said the genesis of the attacks on the police is the general perception that there is a lack of political will to effectively resolve the dwindling state of discipline and professionalism amongst the members and officers of the Nigerian Police Force who are seen as persons who derive joy in the use of torture and extrajudicial killings of civilians.
The Rights group said there is the urgency of the now for the Nigerian Police Force to be restructured fundamentally and all the bad eggs weeded off the police force making use of the recommendations to be determined by the different investigative panels on police brutality known as #ENDSARS PANELS.
The Rights group however expressed regret that the police hierarchy seems lethargic and unperturbed about the proceedings of the judicial panels and has not compelled the indicted police operatives accused of extralegal execution of the citizens to appear before the various panels.
HURIWA said the members of the public have been pushed to the walls by the systemic and systematic lack of professionalism and discipline within the Nigerian Police Force and made worst by the open defecation by President Muhammadu Buhari on top of the extant Nigerian Police Force Act by granting tenure extension illegally to a lacklustre IGP who has thoroughly undermined and compromised the National Security of Nigeria by failing to restore discipline and professionalism in the Police Force.
The Rights group said the President Muhammadu Buhari must be put under pressure to begin to respect and enforce the Nigerian Police Force Act of 2020 because of the many good innovations within the body of the law.
HURIWA recalled that the Section 4 of the New Act has extended the duties of the Nigeria Police beyond detection and prevention of crimes and protection of rights, lives and properties, maintenance of public safety, law and order; and the enforcement of laws and regulations to include collaborating with agencies to provide assistance to persons in distress, victims of road accidents, fire disasters, earthquakes, and flood, facilitating the free passage and movement on the highways, roads, and streets open to the public and adoption community partnership. The Nigeria Police Force also now has the duty to vet and approve the registration of private detective schools and private investigation outfits.
The Rights group said the new Police Act as interpreted by legal experts has been upgraded to ensure that the Nigeria Police Force promotes and protects the fundamental human rights of persons as provided for by the Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right, and other international legal instruments on human rights, The Police Force is forthwith expected to collaborate with relevant agencies to provide legal services to accused person where necessary .
HURIWA cited interpretations of some of the provisions as made by respected legal experts thus: “In order to further achieve this, the new Act requires that every Police Division must be assigned a police officer who is qualified to practice as a legal practitioner whose responsibility will be to promote human rights compliance by the officers of the Division”.
HURIWA said it was imperative that President Muhammadu Buhari returns to the path of respect for the law by appointing a competent officer to take o re the functions of the IGP since legally the person masquerading as the IGP use violator in the face of the law and the Rights group reminds the President that the Grund Norm of Nigeria provides in Section 214 of 1999 constitution stated thus: “214.-(1) there shall be a police Force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof. (2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution -(a) The Nigeria Police Force shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly;(b) The members of the Nigeria Police Force shall have such powers and duties as may be conferred upon them by law;(c) The National Assembly may make provisions for branches of the Nigeria police Force forming part of the armed forces of the Federation or for the protection of harbours, waterways, railways and air fields.(3) The President or such other Minister of the Government of the Federation as he may authorise in that behalf may give to the Inspector-General of Police such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary, and the Inspector-General of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with.”