Rights Body Advocates Police Reform for Effectiveness

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A civil society organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has warned that unless the Nigerian Police Force was comprehensively and surgically reformed as well as re-oriented fundamentally to embrace the traditional constitutional mandate of enforcement of law and the nation stood the risk of falling into anarchy.

To avoid the ugly trend, the group called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare state of emergency in the police with a view to reforming and making it effective so as to address the yearnings of the people instead of exploiting them.

HURIWA condemned the alleged high level of police professional indiscipline and the ways and manners that the officers of the police from the office of the Inspector General of police had delved into civil land related disputes and land speculations in Enugu State which had become the new normal for some top police officers who regularly invade communities experiencing legal challenges with land ownership to exploit some parties.

The Rights group said it had received a presentation from some Enugu State communities alleging plots to frame up innocent persons with alleged land dispute related fatalities and further expressed sadness that some police officers had misused their powers to get involved in extortion and other criminality which had become a hydra-headed monster that needed to be confronted with a Presidential Declaration of a state of policing emergency.

The National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare a national state of policing emergency and to work with the National Assembly and the organised civil society community in the Country to fashion out the needed legislative amendments to the enabling law setting up the Police Service Commission (PSC) to enable the agency to live up to the mandates .

of instilling strict disciplinary action against erring police officers.

“HURIWA has been briefed by communities and we have received a presentation by a firm of legal practitioners and solicitors whose services have been retained by Umunnugwu and Ndiaga viillages of Ugwuaji-Awkunanaw of Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State both of whom and upon whose express mandate and instruction we forward this complaint to you.”

“Their clients have found themselves constrained to forwarding this petition to you to bring to the knowledge of the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu about the alleged dastardly act of the team of operatives from IGP’s Intelligence Response Team under the leadership of DSP. John Onyima who notwithstanding the truth at his disposal vis-à-vis the fact that the said DSP John Onyima has previously concluded investigation into the killing of two people at Isiagu village in Ugwuaji-Awkunanaw community, has allegedly thrown every caution to the wind by embarking on a mass arrest of the people of Umunnugwu and Ndiaga villages under the guise that they are linked with the killing of the said people in Isiagu village.

“HURIWA was briefed that sometime in the year 2012, our complainants jointly mapped out a layout from their ancestral land for the development of a residential estate which layout was mapped out and registered in the Enugu State Land Registry by a Surveyor, (name withheld) who due to the impecuniosity on the part of the complainants was given some plots of land as consideration for his work.

“For reasons unknown to the complainants, the Surveyor never developed the plots of land given to him as compensation thereby creating an avenue for encroachment into the said plots by the youths of Isiagu village.

“It was against this encroachment into the Umunnugwu/Ndiaga layout by the youths of Isiagu that the youths of Umunnugwu/Ndiaga youths rose in opposition and which action led to a clash between the youths of Umunnugwu/Ndiaga and the Isiagu villages”.

“In view of the clash between the youths of the aforementioned communities and those of the Isiagu village, the complainants said to be being law abiding by their legal team, reported the incident to the Intelligence Response Team, Asaba which in turn sent their operatives to the scene of the clash for investigation.

“Our clients further informed us and we verily believe them as true that upon the arrival of the said IRT team of investigators from Asaba to Ugwuaji-Awkunanaw community, the youth of Isiagu village did in the broad day light allegedly attack the team of investigators by sporadically shooting at the said team and which action only left the IRT team of investigators from Asaba with the sole option of allegedly opening fire on their attackers in self-defence. Our client said the lawyers, further informed us that it was during the exchange of gun fire between the youths of Isisagu village and the IRT Team from Asaba that two people from the Isiagu youths were hit by the bullets from the IRT Team resulting to the death of the said duo,” they alleged.

HURIWA further alleged that, “Notwithstanding the conclusion of the investigation into the cause of death of the two youths of Isiagu village by DSP John Onyima’s led team which included an autopsy on the bodies of the deceased, DSP John Onyima working in concert with the Isiagu village has recently allegedly initiated another round of investigation into the death of the said youths by making a fresh allegation that the elders of Umunnugwu/Ndiaga villages did together with the said sponsored the killing of the said Isiagu youths.

“For this new allegation, DSP John Onyima allegedly instructed another team of investigators from the IRT, Abuja to Umunnugwu and Ndiaga villages to hunt for the elders of the two villages and which hunt has resulted to the arrest of the surveyor and others who were arrested by the said team at the instance or command allegedly of DSP John Onyima on the 10th day of June, 2020 and taken to Abuja on the false and baseless allegation of sponsoring the killing of the two youths of Isiagu village even when the circumstances of the death of the said youths are allegedly well known to DSP John Onyima”.

“It is therefore in the appreciation of the above development as well as the fact of the concluded investigation into the death of the youth which revealed the cause of their death and also the fact of the manifest neglect by the IRT to investigate the youth of Isiagu village and recover the weapons with which they attacked the IRT operatives from Asaba, Delta State that our clients believe that there is more to the actions of DSP John Onyima than meets the eyes.”

“In view of the above therefore, it is our clients’ prayer that that the investigation into the cause of death of the youths of Isiagu village be taken away from the IRT to another neutral section of the Nigeria Police Force so as to forestall any complexities on the part of the IRT team of investigators led by DSP John Onyima.”

They therefore called for the intervention of the Inspector General of Police to stem the continued harassment and exploitation of the people.