The Police must embrace dialogue, not violence: violence begets violence, By Okechukwu Nwanguma
Posted by News Express | 28 May 2021 | 74 times
PUNCH newspaper of 19 May, 2021 reported and quoted the Acting Inspector General of Police of the Nigeria Police Force thus:
The acting Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, on Tuesday declared war on Biafra agitators and gunmen attacking and destroying police infrastructure in the South-East and South-South regions and ordered their extermination.
Baba, who spoke on the sideline while addressing the Police Mobile Force and Special Tactical Squad of the Force in Enugu shortly after he launched Operation Restore Peace, directed policemen in the region not to adhere to the rules of engagement while dealing with Biafra secessionist groups, adding that his job was to protect them.
“Don’t mind the media shout; do the job I command you. If anyone accuses you of human rights violation, the report will come to my table and you know what I will do. So, take the battle to them wherever they are and kill them all. Don’t wait for an order.
“What another order are you waiting for when Mr. President had ordered you to shoot anybody carrying AK-47 rifle? Quote me, even a dead policeman can be tried and dismissed from the force and his family will not get his benefits.
“So, don’t seat and wait for them to come; take attack to them and don’t lose your arms to criminals,” the acting IGP said.
In an address earlier, before declaring open the operation codenamed, Operation RT – Restore Peace, which was witnessed by governors of the South-East states and heads of other security agencies, Usman stated that the operation was for the stabilisation of the security order in the geopolitical zone.
Now it’s difficult for me to understand or justify the basis for this clearly appalling order and directive by the IGP to his operatives to embark on extra judicial killings, to ignore the rules of engagement and ignore media shouts of human rights violation, with assurances that there will be no consequences for human rights violations by the police This is incredible.
I have spent time and energy calling on citizen to stop attacks on police stations and killing of Police officers. I didn’t lose sight of the fact that the attacks on the police were revenge against the age-long injustices of police violence and atrocities and the failure by the appropriate agencies and institutions of the state to do something about police misconduct and to implement genuine and far reaching police reforms.
I have repeatedly argued that the October 2020 EndSARS protests validated the statement in the preamble to the universal declaration of human rights – that if men are not to be compelled to take recourse as a last resort to rebellion, human rights must be protected by the rule of law.
The failure by successive governments to address impunity for Police violence incrementally built up to EndSARS and the people were justified to resist.
And government displayed bad faith in its response to the protests. Rather than pursue measures to assuage public angst and address the factors, actors and drivers of the rebellion, government’s actions continue to tend towards provoking a repeat of the rebellion, an indication that no lessons have been learnt.
The Inspector General of Police is making it easy for those who criticise my stance against attacks on the police to sustain their argument and it’s difficult for me to continue to rationally justify and sustain my stance against attacks on the police. It bears repeating that the EndSARS protests, sparked by endless years of police violence exposed the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the police and provided the impetus for the continued attacks on the police.
I was concerned that the police were being dehumanised, disgraced, demorslised and about to be decimated rather than reformed.
But since it is clear that those who ought to restrain the Police and hold them accountable for violence are the ones now inciting and ordering them to embark on further brutality and extra judicial killings with assurances that nothing will happen to them for committing egregious human rights violations, it will then be stupid of me to continue to ask the community and the citizens to stand aloof while the police with the tacit approval by the IGP and the President come after them with violence. The people must defend themselves against violence.
I also note that the IGP made reference to President Buhari’s order directing the police and security forces to shoot at sight anyone found with AK47. But it fits into a familiar pattern that the IGP has chosen to implement this reckless and unconstitutional directive in the southern part of the country while the federal government, some northern state governors and notable religious and political leaders in the North continue to negotiate with, and pay those carrying AK-47 and terrorising the people in the North since 2009.
As can be seen already, there have been many reports of abuse of firearms, reckless, unprovoked and unjustifiable shootings, killings and maimings by rampaging armed security operatives in Imo State – in compliance with the directives by the IGP and the President.
I hereby call on the President and the IGP to rethink their decisions and directives. They will complicate and worsen the troubling situation in the Southeast and South-south, rather than abate it. The IGP’s directive to Police Officers to engage in extra judicial killings in the South-East is a recipe for disaster which outcome will be detrimental to both the Police and the people. It is an assault on human rights, on the rule of law, on democracy and on civilisation. The IGP is called upon to reverse himself and embrace dialogue, in the spirit of community policing.
•Okechukwu Nwanguma is Executive Director of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC).
Source: News Express
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