Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Police IG, Mohammed Abubakar - Please Stop These Mob Killings!

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I believe Mob killings stem from police actions and inaction. One could say the respect for life in Nigeria has continued to wear thin because over the years, civilians had either lost trust in the government, especially in the work of the police and the judicial system which have been derailed by corruption and incompetence. Or civilians are simply emulating the brand of justice dished by the police in their extra-judicial killings.

Police men frequently shoot and kill innocent people on the streets for very flimsy reasons including personal vendettas, accidental discharges and refusal to pay bribes. While suspects wait for trial, the police also murder them in jail, some say to depopulate cells or as their own version of justice.

I was still living in Abuja in 2005 when the "Apo Six" were killed and the incident initially buried by the police, like they tried to do to their victims. The truth finally came out, and most of their killers apprehended, but the case is still in court. [AllAfrica]

Last year, "ALUU4" became another slogan. It began on October 5th, 2012, when Biringa Chiadika Lordson, Ugonna Kelechi Obuzor,  Mike Lloyd Toku and Tekena Erikena, all students at the University of Port-Harcourt,  were falsely accused of theft and severely beaten and burnt to death by a mob of civilians as policemen watched.

Chinwe Biringa, the mother of Chiadika, one of the murdered ALUU4, confirmed to Channels TV that policemen were present during the killings. According to her,

Eyewitnesses accounts revealed that policemen were at the scene of the incident. Besides, policemen at the police station confirmed to one of the bereaved parents who visited them that policemen were there.

And the explanation they gave was that they were overwhelmed by the crowd and that they had insufficient bullets in their guns and all that thrash to confront the crowd.

What manner of policemen are these? [Aside - talking of insufficient bullets and how totally under-resourced the police is, who can forget former IG of police, Tafa Balogun and the billions he and other police fraudsters have milked from police funds over the years?] But I do not think lack of resources is the major problem of the police. They will have to look at how personnel are recruited and the training they receive as well as their knowledge of the law they're supposed to enforce.

Again, another mob action killing has occurred, this time in Lagos, and in all the accounts, it says that some policemen actually participated actively in the murder. According to the report by Punchng,

At some points in the video, a policeman was seen interviewing the boys. He asked who sent them (victims) to rob the area, an accusation they denied. One of the hoodlums, holding a sharp object attempted to cut off the private part of one of the victims.

Nwainokpor could be seen pleading with the hoodlums and policemen to spare his life, saying he could identify himself if given a chance. His plea, however, fell on deaf ears.

According to the reporter, the Lagos state police spokesperson, Ngozi Braide, has said of the killing, “The incident is quite pathetic. Even if they were armed robbers, no one has the right to take the life of another. Why then do we have the police and the judiciary? The Nigerian police as well as the law condemn mob action and jungle justice. The commissioner of police has set up a high- powered investigation body to investigate the matter.”

But how can she say that with a stright face knowing the history of the police as a whole and the involvement of policemen in this particular case?

After he was appointed and confirmed as the Inspector General of police in January 2012, Mohammed Abubakar admitted to the extrajudicial killings of the police and the effect it has had on civilians. In a speech to senior police officers in which he called for changes, Abubakar agreed that;

"Justice has been perverted, people's rights denied, innocent souls committed to prison, torture and extra-judicial killings perpetrated. Our anti-robbery squads have become killer teams, many people arbitrarily detained in our cells because they cannot afford the illegal bail monies we demand. Our respect is gone and the Nigerian public has lost even the slightest confidence in the ability of the police to do any good thing."

If he stands by what he said, and is really working to reform the police, then I want him to add this challenge to his list of must-dos. I am calling on the IG of police to do everything in his capacity as police chief to stop this menace of mob killings in Nigeria!

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