Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria have accused Nigerian Police of promoting personnel involved in criminal conduct in the country despite the overwhelming evidences of gross and criminal misconduct.
The Executive Director, International Human Rights and Equity Defense Foundation (I-REF), Justus Uche Ijeoma and Executive Director, Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Okechukwu Nwanguma made this known during an interview with ElombahNews.
WATCH THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THE VIDEO HERE and BELOW
Both Justus and Okechukwu particularly fingered men and officers of the Police Intelligence Response Unit (IRT) and the Special Tactical Squad (STS).
They cited instances where overwhelming evidences are presented against the police operatives for professional misconduct including murder, extortion, abduction, torture and unlawful arrest, with no sanctions meted to the erring officers.
They lamented that national agencies that are responsible in Nigeria for disciplining police personnel involved in criminal conduct like Human Right Commission and Police Service Commission have failed in their responsibilities to the country.
Ijeoma and Okechukwu were among leaders of notable civil society organisations and coalitions across Nigeria that signed a wide-ranging statement which among other things accused IRT and STS operatives of taking “advantage of the attachment of ‘Inspector general of Police’ to their names to commit crimes and abuses in the name of the IGP;
“They conducted themselves in the most appallingly unprofessional ways, placed themselves above the law and were unaccountable in their operations.”
The statement gave specific examples where “many of the operatives recklessly engaged in excesses and atrocities – ranging from abductions, detention, torture and extortion of huge sums of money from targeted victims and illegally confiscated and converted money and properties recovered or belonging to many of the persons they arrested for their personal use.
“Some of our organisations intervened in some cases and our findings were that many of the victims were innocent of the crimes for which they were abducted, maltreated and extorted of huge sums of money.
“In fact, the operatives exploited and turned their call to combat crime into an opportunity to commit crime by harassing, intimidating, maltreating and extorting huge funds from victims most of whom were framed with false accusations.”
Ijeoma and Okechukwu however said that despite the enormous power given to the National Human Rights Commission Commission, the agency has failed to use it’s power to deal with erring officers .
Justus said, ” BBC Africa released a video , they have account of incident in Nigeria where officers, Yusuf Kolo, who allegedly tortured a man, Hassan Alfa, to death has been promoted twice since the incident.
“Instead for this man to punished he was rewarded with double promotions. At that time the Court ruled that the man died as a direct result of the injury inflicted on him resulting in the death of the man.
“It was a special documentary on torture in Nigeria.”
“The report of Amnesty International was also clear on the use of torture by the police in Nigeria and police formations were indicted and none of these people have been brought to book .
“I have a case where the Police arrested a businessman, tortured him and extorted N6 million from him, when the victim got free and came to us with his story, we took the matter with the Police.
“The Police authorities found our evidence credible and forced the officer involved to return N6 million, yes, it was refunded.
“But all the officers were involved in this heinous crime went scot free, none of them has been brought to justice.
“And we wonder how can this person that committed clear infractions of our law be in the police and yet nothing has been done against him!
“How can a society move forward without enforcing it’s laws?
Asked what the civil society is doing about the problem, Mr Ijeoma said “It is not as of we don’t push for sanctions against erring officers, but it appears the police authorities are complicit.”
He added: “they are not eager to punish any erring officer among them, they will rather give all manner of flimsy excuses for the officers who commit these atrocities.”
Supporting the position of Justus, Mr Okechukwu said,” We have written petitions on some specific cases which are still pending.
“The challenge we have is the failure of the Police to punish the officers that committed atrocities.”
“The Human Right Commission once organised a public hearing on the matter, and some SARs personnel attended the event, reports were submitted and some people came out to talk.
“Now what has the Human Right Commission done with those reports?
“What is the police service commission doing on the issue of police officers involved in criminal conduct?
“Our task ends with documentation and exposing, denouncing and making calls for the prosecution of officers involved criminal conduct.
“We listed specific vases in the statement released. We called on the IGP to take the next step by prosecuting officers involved in criminal conduct.
“The IGP has taken some steps which show that the IGP is not in supporting professional misconduct, but we have seen cases in the past where an officer was charged for murder, they will be dismissed in Lagos and you will find them in Abia as police officers!
“We have the Anti-torture Act which was passed in 2017, yet no single officer has been tried based on this Act.
“The IGP needs to demonstrate genuine commitment to tackle human these right abuses.”
VIDEO: Disbanding the Police Intelligence Response Unit (IRT) and the Special Tactical Squad (STS).
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