Emmanuel Onwubiko: Killer or healer as IG of police

An opportunity has beckon for the Nigerian State to get it right in the area of netting in a great leader for the beleaguered Nigeria Police Force with the expected retirement after 35 years in the Police by the incumbent Inspector General of Police –Adamu Mohammed.

It must be recalled that the Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group-: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) recently warned against the continuous toleration of crass incompetence and the general collapse of professionalism and discipline in the Nigeria Police Force just as the President Muhammadu Buhari has been charged to scout for a tested, trusted, competent and professionally meritorious patriotic Nigerian Police Officer to step in as the next Inspector General of Police with the imminent retirement of the current IGP Mohammed Adamu scheduled for February 1st 2021.

The Rights group said whereas it has no objection to the extension of tenures of service chiefs of the core armed forces like the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Rights group said the Police Force stands out distinctively different from these core armed forces segments because of the fact that the police’s inability to curb internal security breaches is the reason why the Armed forces segments such as the Nigerian Army are overstretched and overburdened with internal security operations that ordinarily the Nigeria Police Force ought to statutorily be in charge of. “Therefore let nobody compare the extension of services granted to the Armed forces heads leading the counter terror measures in the theatres of counter terrorism to be same as that of the office of the IGP who manifest failures have compelled the Army to take up statutory policing duties and routines to stop criminals from destroying and over-running Nigeria”.

The Rights group said the speculation that the current Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu is strenuously lobbying to obtain the undeserved and indeed illegal extension of his tenure of office beyond what the statute has provided for, is disturbing going by the urgency of the now for the Nigerian Police Force to be fundamentally restructured, reorganised, reformed and the rejigged to be in the position to play her law enforcement and crime prevention strategic roles according to the global best practices and in compliance absolutely with the Principle of the Rule of law. HURIWA said Nigeria needed a police Chief who will introduce technologies for crime prevention and bolster the intelligence gathering capacities of the operatives and officers of the Nigeria Police Force”.

“HURIWA is by this statement demanding that Mr. President should make good his January 1st 2021 Solemn promise to reshape and reorganise the security strategies of this administration given that all around the entire North East of Nigeria and North West of the Country, terrorists, armed Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers and armed bandits have turned the hitherto peaceful regions into killing and crime fields just as there is a clear failure of the leadership of the Nigerian Police Force and the hierarchies of the various internal security Architectures such as the Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian Immigration Services and the National Defence Corp. Now that vacancies exists in all of these strategic offices, it is our expectations that President Muhammadu Buhari will use this as the clearest opportunity to scout for the best minds and the most competent and qualified persons to be appointed heads of these internal security operations. Mr. President is known to practice nepotism and always picking persons even with the least qualifications provided that they are from his Ethnicity and/or Religion. This pattern has gone on since 2015. This is the exact reason that terrorism, and all kinds of blood cuddling violence have become the norm rather than the exception in all parts of the Country and especially in the North of Nigeria which is where all the current heads of the internal security Architectures hail from. But for the Nigerian Army, Air Force and Navy, the entire Country would have collapsed”.

“HURIWA joins the rest of the community of patriotic citizens of Nigeria to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to behave like a Statesman and stop his nepotistic practices of always insisting on persons of his religion and Ethnicity holding these aforementioned internal security positions and incidentally, there are now vacancies at the top most echelons of Police, Customs, immigration, Civil Defence and Prisons. As the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu reaches the mandatory limit of 35 years in service on February 1, 2021, we reject any attempt by President Muhammadu Buhari to capitulate and cave in to the intense pressure and lobbying by the failed IGP Mr Adamu Mohammadu who is also eager to get an extension”.

HURIWA reminds President Muhammadu Buhari that by law, the police IGP is appointed by the president on the “advice” of the Police Council just as this Council is chaired by the president and has the 36 state governors, chairman of the Police Service Commission and the IGP as members. Adamu, a member of the ASP Cadet Course 14 of 1986, is due to retire, seven months ahead of his 60th birthday. He was born in Lafia, Nasarawa State, on September 17, 1961 and enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force on February 1, 1986.

Besides, the Rights group said the Police Act, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari last year, provides tenure system for the position and reiterated retirement terms as 60 years of age or 35 years of service just as the Rights Advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has insisted that the Powers of the President does not include the willful breach of extant laws for that will violate Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution which provides that it is the obligation of the Nigerian State to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power. President Muhammadu Buhari must comply by the law that even he himself signed and let this failed inspector general of Police Mr Adamu to go home and the President must not accede to the thinking and the naked ambitions of Adamu Mohammed who is reportedly banking on extension of his tenure as the country’s top cop in what insiders dub “the service chiefs treatment.”

HURIWA said there is a clear distinction between the service chiefs and the IGP because there are pragmatic evidence to show that the Nigeria Police Force is the one dragging Nigeria backwards because they do not meet up with the thresholds of contemporary internal security efficiency to enable the Nigerian Army concentrate on its core mandate of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

“HURIWA like most patriotic analysts believe that the expiration of the tenure of this police boss presents an opportunity for President Buhari to address concerns over the appointment of heads of the country’s security heads. We aligned ourselves with the strong voices advocating against repeating the ‘Muhammadu Buhari’s convention’ observable since 2015 with the police because we believe that the police as currently constituted is deeply rotten and corrupt and extending the tenure of the police chief whose tenure saw the deterioration of standards of policing in Nigeria will breed disaffection and throw many of Adamu’s juniors out of the force.

HURIWA recalled that the heads of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NCDC), the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) have had their tenures extended by between 18 to 6 months. The Comptroller-General of the NCoS, Jaafaru Ahmed, was due to retire on July 21, 2019, but got a one-year presidential extension to July 2020.This was again extended by another six months, at the instance of the Minister of Interior, Rauf Argebesola.

HURIWA lamented that the tenure of NSCDC’s Abdullahi Muhammadu Gana, which expired in July 2020, was extended through presidential approval by six months. The extension lapses this month. Immigration chief, Mohammed Babandede’s tenure, which was extended in mid-2020 by six months, has again lapsed. No appointment has been made to replace any of the senior security officials.

HURIWA reminds President Muhammadu Buhari that the new Police Act signed by President Buhari in September last year provides for a tenure of four years for the Inspector-General of Police. The new law excluded persons on the rank of Commissioner of Police and below from being appointed to the position. Section 7 sub-section 2 of the act provides that: “The person to be appointed as Inspector-General of Police shall be a senior police officer not below the rank of Assistant Inspector-General of Police with the requisite academic qualification of not less than a first degree or its equivalent, in addition to professional or management experience.” The section also pegs the tenure of the police chief as four years.

Sadly, for most people in the corridors of power, what matters to them is not about the need to find and pick someone with the appropriate vision, the “Killer” instincts to reinvigorate the dying policing institution, kill off massive corruption that has eroded the moral fabrics of the Nigerian Police Force, heal the longstanding wounds inflicted by the Police on the masses by way of police brutality, arbitrary arrests, bribe seeking tendencies, use of torture and extrajudicial killings.

The way to go is for the President to search for the right candidate with the ‘KILLER’ TALENT which Chelsea Football Coach Mr. Frank Lampard describes as the ‘Killer’ to head the Nigeria Police.

The man with the ‘Killer instincts’ must be understood in its metaphorical context as a highly qualified Police Officer, competent, professionally meritorious who would deploy the professional ‘killer’ instincts to kill off corruption in the Nigeria Police Force which is the killer of pride, public trust/confidence in the police, staff discipline and professionalism amongst the Nigeria Police Force.

This is what a Catholic Bishop of Ekiti diocese said: “In the area of black marketers, the law enforcement agents, especially the police, are indeed contributing factors to this. Notably, some police officers and men tend to be collaborators by their actions. They prefer the money that is given to them by either the agents of the black market kingpins or the barons themselves. It seems it is only when they are not ‘settled’ appropriately or when they want to portray themselves as ‘efficient’ officers that they apply the law against their ‘friends’.

“To say the least, the officers’ activities in this regard are criminal, since their collaborative attitudes, directly or indirectly are corrupt, both in nature and character. Unless the country’s security officers have a new orientation, and at the same time are adequately compensated, they may continue in their widely known practice.”

“Nigerians and foreigners residing in the country can have confidence in them. If not, they will remain irrelevant in the society. It is even being postulated that it is due to the perpetual collaboration of the police with the people of doubtful character that regional ‘security’ group like OPC, the Bakassi Boys MASSOB, Egbesu Boys, and similar groups have emerged. This is food for thought for the police and the Federal Government.” ( Beyond Ideas by Right Reverend Doctor Femi Ajakaye).

For the avoidance of semantic doubts, the Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard, had said his squad lacks a ruthless streak and he doesn’t have enough “killers” despite their 4-0 home win over Morecambe in the FA Cup.

The media recalled that victory was needed as a confidence booster, with Lampard selecting a strong XI against the League Two side on Sunday.

Timo Werner ended a 13-game goal drought and Kai Havertz also scored for the first time in 15 matches.

It also came after a poor run of form that has seen the Blues win just one of their last six league games.

Lampard, speaking afterwards to the media, identified a lack of killer instinct.

“What we can’t ask the youth of this squad sometimes is to be absolutely consistent and be killers, like other players in the league are in terms of the numbers they produce and consistently produce.

“That will come for our lads but at the moment their contributions are good.

“I mean killers in the best possible terms and I hope people know what I mean,” he said.

Definitely, the reign of the current IGP led to the escalation of indiscipline, incompetence, lack of professionalism and epochal corruption. So going for a visionary leader of the police to root out corruption ruthlessly showing what Frank Lampard calls the ‘KILLER TALENTS’ is highly in demand. Institutionally, there have been actions adopted to demonstrate the urgency of the now for the Nigerian Police Force to be fundamentally restructured reorganised.

Recently, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC ), Tony Ojukwu Esq said the Commission will set up a Special Investigation Panel on the alleged police brutality of staff of Women Aid Collective (WACOL) a non governmental organisation based in Enugu.

Receiving a petition from WACOL Founding Director, Professor Joy Ezeilo( OON) on the alleged police brutality in Abuja over the weekend, Ojukwu stated that the Commission will leave no stone unturned in establishing the veracity of the complaint and bringing the culprits to book.

The Executive Secretary disclosed that he had already received a detailed report from the Enugu State Coordinator of the Commission to who had earlier been directed to carry out a preliminary investigation into the incident and send in the report urgently.

According to the Executive Secretary the respect for human rights should be the guiding principle for all law enforcement operations.

In the 4 page petition, WACOL alleged that it’s staff were assaulted, brutalised and properties belonging to the organisation damaged by the Nigerian police force, Area Command , Enugu.
The organisation stated that the incident was not the first time the police was invading WACOL office. It recalled that in 2017 the head of the legal team of WACOL was almost rendered naked by the police who tore her clothes and inflicted serious injuries on her.
Professor Ezeilo appealed to the Commission to take measures to fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act to forestall future occurrence.
It also appealed to the Commission to use her position to effect the transfer of the alleged rape case that sparked off the unfortunate incident out of Enugu to ensure unbiased investigation and prosecution.

Then over 150 Nigerian women, under the aegis of Mothers United and Mobilised (MUM), have petitioned the United Nations (UN), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Senate and the House of Representatives, demanding transparency in the findings by the judicial panels set up to probe police brutality in the country.

Also petitioned are the UNICEF, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and UN Women.

The convener of MUM, Dr. Boluwaji Onabolu, during a media briefing yesterday in Abuja where she reeled out the petitions signed by the Nigerian mothers, specifically demanded that findings by the national and state judicial panels of enquiry must provide answers to questions asked by Nigerians: who ordered the shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate; who carried out the order; how will those found guilty be held accountable and how will redress be made possible?

The mothers also demanded that the findings must be made public and the implementation transparent.

They urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to immediately halt the freezing of bank accounts of #EndSARS protesters, and for the governments to stop the unlawful detention of the protesters and their supporters.

MUM further demanded that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin, should follow established international military protocol by investigating and punishing erring soldiers and their commanding officers involved in the shooting of the protesters.

The mothers declared support for the Nigerian youths, especially those that protested against ending police brutality and the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS).

While applauding the Presidency and the state governments for setting up the panels to investigate allegations of police brutality, MUM said that the probe should not end up like others conducted by the government the recommendations of which were never implemented.

“What we are saying is that this measures should not stop at fact finding, but must facilitate dialogue, ensure accountability and redress,” the mothers said.

The group called on the judicial panels to release their findings and implement them with the involvement of the civil society at all stages, adding that more visible steps should be taken towards police reform to stop the continuous human right violation that led to the #EndSARS protest “which has not stopped.”

The convener also stressed the need for redress for the numerous victims of the protests, including the police and innocent bystanders.
MUM had donated N100,000 to the widow of Rasheed Kareem, a 42-year old car dealer who was hit by a stray bullet at Surulere, Lagos State during the protests.

According to the mothers, people do not have to die during protests as youths must have a voice to demand for their rights from government.

They stressed the need to stop police brutality of innocent citizens. All these are coming after it was reported that the police killed many Nigerians during the Lockdown for Covid-19 as declared by President Muhammadu Buhari for over 6 Months last year.

Nigerian security forces killed 18 people in two weeks while enforcing lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the new coronavirus, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said.

Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous country and biggest energy producer, has recorded 407 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths from the highly contagious lung disease.

Lockdowns initially slated to last 14 days were put in place on March 30 in the southern commercial hub Lagos, neighbouring Ogun state and the capital Abuja. They were extended on Sunday by two weeks and other states, such as the northern economic hub Kano, have also imposed restrictions.

The NHRC, an independent body, said in a statement dated April 15 that there had been “eight documented incidents of extrajudicial killings leading to 18 deaths” between March 30 and April 13.

It said the killings were carried out by the Nigerian Correctional Service, the police force and army.

In response, a spokesman for the Nigerian Correctional Service said four inmates had died after violence broke out and left a number of prisoners and staff hospitalised. The rights commission report alleged eight deaths.

The Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Army did not respond to phone calls seeking comment on the NHRC statement.

The statement said “law enforcement agents extrajudicially executed 18 persons in the cause of the enforcement regulations” related to lockdown measures.

“The report notes that most of the violations witnessed during the period arose as a result of excessive or disproportionate use of force, abuse of power, corruption and non-adherence to national and international laws, best practices and rules of engagement,” the NHRC statement said.

The NHRC said it had received 105 complaints of alleged human rights violations in the first two weeks of the lockdown.
Nigerian police and the military have repeatedly been accused by rights advocates of using excessive force, but have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Last year the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings also accused Nigerian security forces of using excessive lethal force. The police and military did not respond to those accusations.

To be candid, the matter of police brutality is global but the difference is that other nations are doing things to change the narrative but in Nigeria there is no will power on the part of the government to change the status quo.

To let us know a bit of what is being done in the USA with police reforms, we were told that a Congressional effort to pass police reform legislation in the wake of the death of George Floyd and other African Americans while in police custody has stalled, despite overwhelming bipartisan demand for change.

With the support of three Republicans, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a controversial police reform measure on Thursday. The bill failed, however, to gain traction in the Republican-led Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected Democratic Party demands to toughen a corresponding Senate measure before it is formally introduced for debate.

The stalled efforts reflect a deep partisan divide in Washington which has left the nation’s lawmakers unable to act on Americans’ demands for police reform and change on other issues such as immigration and gun control.

The U.S. public overwhelmingly supports some measure of police reform after the death of Floyd, who died after a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes as he pleaded he could not breathe.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found 29% of U.S. citizens believe a complete overhaul of the national criminal justice system is necessary. The poll said 40% of respondents feel the system must undergo significant change, while 25% say it needs only minor changes.

In the mid western city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Floyd was died on March 25 and where unrest continues, efforts to achieve police reform have been more successful. The city council voted unanimously Friday to change the city charter, a step toward the potential dismantling of the police department.

Major bureaucratic obstacles would have to be overcome, though, before the city’s voters have the chance to decide the matter during November elections.

Since Floyd’s death, calls to defund police have spread across the U.S., with many activists advocating that some police funding be re-allocated to community-based social services programs.

Police departments in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Boston are among the local law enforcement agencies facing defunding calls from grassroots activists.

The American Civil Liberties Union accuses many of the agencies facing defunding calls of systemic racism, a charge that most of those agencies reject.

The issue has deep roots in the United States. The Kerner Commission report, ordered by then-President Lyndon Johnson after 150 U.S. cities erupted in violence in 1967 over racial injustice, concluded police brutality was a primary cause of the unrest.

Although police reform legislation in Congress has stalled, there are common elements in the House Democratic and Senate Republican bills that lawmakers could build upon if they address the issue again.

Both measures call for a national database of use-of-force incidents by law enforcement officers and limits on police chokeholds.

So, back to the theme of this reflection, the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari must appoint for Nigeria a great Leader to head the Police Force because the outgoing Police Inspector General Adamu Mohammed is a monumental failure.

*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and [email protected] theingerianinsidernews.com, www.huriwanigeria.com.

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