The Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Nwonyi Emeka, has warned vigilante groups in the state not to engage in the detention, torture and extortion of arrested suspects.
Emeka gave the warning yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital while speaking during a stakeholders meeting with the people of Rivers East senatorial district.
Rivers East senatorial district is made up of Etche, Emohua, Ikwerre, Omuma, Ogu/Bolo, Obio/Akpor Okrika and Port Harcourt City local government areas of the state.
The meeting was attended by local government chairmen, traditional rulers, youth leaders and vigilante groups in the senatorial district.
The Police Commissioner said: “The vigilante in crime fighting in Rivers State has come to stay. While we like their activities, we emphasize on their excess.
We will not tolerate jungle justice from vigilantes. We cannot have a group of people to protect life and property and the same people are the ones killing, beheading.
“Tyrannical activities of vigilante must be curtailed. They are not force unit themselves. For instance, we have situation where they turn to debt collectors; flogging people.
Your duty is to arrest and share information.You don’t have power to detain and investigate. If a person is condemned by court for hanging and the person is shot, the person who shot him has commited murder.
“Vigilantes, maintain your mandate.
Activities of vigilante groups must be monitored by the traditional rulers, Police, local government chairmen. Any arrest made by the vigilante group must be handed over to the Police.”
Speaking during the stakeholders meeting, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in-charge of State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Victor Erivwede, accused vigilante groups of engaging in human right abuses.
Erivwede said: “There are many human right abuses by the vigilante groups. Viigilante group or OSPAC started well but, started derailing when they began to take contracts from political leaders.
“If I have my way I will tell the Commissioner of Police to review the OSPAC and other vigilante groups. Many of the OSPAC members are criminals”.
“I have a case in my table where a vigilante member shot a man dead because the man spoke to his girlfriend.”