Opinions

Emmanuel Onwubiko: And the police killed Ifeoma

The worst betrayal is when the government that ought to protect you, becomes an onlooker whilst someone else snuffs precious life out of you and despatch you to the great world beyond.

Reminiscent of the big brother who continuously bullies and gradually takes away the joy of living, and makes life short, bruttish and miserable, the Nigeria police force in Nigeria has become the collective nightmare of the millions of severally disadvantaged millions of Nigerians.

The country has in the last 60 years become a big edifice of unjust termination of the sweet and sacred lives of Nigerian citizens. For doing nothing, a poor or a citizens with no political connections could get killed by the drunk police operatives mounting illegal toll gates all across the nation but these illegal extortion joints by police are seen prominently in the South East of Nigeria. Years past, the irrespresible human rights campaigner and philosophical Musician Fela Anikulapo of Blessed memory had sang about the Nigerian Police Force been administered like a Banking hall, with the Divisional police officers as bank managers and the foot soldiers mounting road blocks to extort motorists as marketers.

These incessant state tolerated impunity of the men and officers of the police has virtually become a publicly endorsed nuisance to such a nauseating extent that NATIONAL OUTRAGE no longer greets these intermittent police executions of the innocent by persons paid by the tax payers to enforce the law. In Awka the Special Anti Robbery Squad run execution ground. In Abuja, the same and in PortHarcourt it’s almost the same. The currebt ten year Old TERROR attacks on Nigeria was ignited by Police extra judicial killing of the founder of Boko haram sect Yusuf Mohammed. This is the record of the killing of It some Abugu who has joined the long list of victims of police assassinations.

The lawyers wrote thus:”RE: Alleged sexual assault, Assault and murder of Ifeoma Stella Abugu by Officers of special Anti Robbery squad who are still at large.The Above subject matter refers, We are solicitors to the Abuja family of miss Stella Ifeoma (hereinafter referred to as ‘Our client ‘ ), and in whose instructions we write.

Sir , it is our client’s instruction that ifeoma was arrested and whisked away in lieu of her Fiancé ( Mr. Afam ugwnwa ) at wumba Village, Lokogoma, Abuja on 10th September , 2020 at about 5.00pm by men of special Anti Robbery squad (SARS) operatives whose identity we don’t know yet at the time of instruction, Sir , Ifeoma died in custody the day following. The picture of the deceased shortly before her arrest and death is attached herewith as annexure A.

Sir, according to our client’s instructions, the SARS operatives invaded the deceased fiancé’s apartment at wumba Village, lokogoma, Abuja at about 5.00pm in search of Mr. Afam ugwunwa Who was not present , They therefore arrested the deceased in lieu . According to residents and eye witnesses, Ifeoma was whisked away by the operatives same evening in a healthy state. On 15th September, 2020 information reached the family that Ifeoma Stella Abugu is dead and her body lying with gwagwalada specialist hospital. Meanwhile our clients’ have gone to SARS office guzape , Abuja and made sensitive findings including that the officers who carried out the arrest were on illegal duty ; the matter has been transferred to Apo police division headed by DPO Usman for preliminary investigations ; and investigative police officer ( IPO ) Inspector Bulus is also investigating the matter currently

Ifeoma Stella Abugu, a young participant of the National Youth Service scheme who is serving her fatherland in the federal capital territory is the latest to join the fatal statistics that have piled up courtesy of police brutality and reckless misuse of state power due largely to a break down in the enforcement of service discipline in the Nigeria police force.

literally captured as a hostage and abducted by some men trained from the central pool of resources of the tax payers to protect lives and property of the citizen, but who due to a vacuum in enforcement of internal disciplinary mechanism within the Nigeria police force have become the biggest obstacle to the fulfilment of the state’s obligation to the citizens which is the protection of the sanctity of life as encapsulated in a plethora of municipal and international human rights law.

Ifeoma which means “good omen”, met her bad omen and was despatched to the world beyond by some brutes and primitive creatures who are in no way fit to exists in a civilized society but who were actually employed by the state under the guise that they are to work to protect the lives of the citizens but in actual fact they are silent killers of the innocent civilians.

The Nigerian constitution, imperfect as it is, has inherently made provisions for the government to enforce the law guaranteeing that security of lives of citizens is sacrosanct.

The constitution never minced words in hitting the nail on the head to legislate that life of the citizens must be safeguarded since in effect, the people of Nigeria or the voters are owners of the sovereignty of Nigeria.

The constitution says in section 14(1)(2)(b) that:’’ 14.(1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:This Constitution derives all its powers and authority;(b) The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government:’’

Also in section 13, the grund norm says: Section 13.”It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.’’

The constitution is supreme, over and above other legislation including the lesser statute that created the police Ab initio known as the police Act because it says and I quote: According to the section1 (I). The constitution is supreme and obligatory on all authority and persons.

The constitutional provisions bringing into being the policing institution from section 214(1)(2)(a)(b) and (c) and 215 (I)(a)(b)(2)(3)(4) and (5) did not permit extralegal execution of the citizens.

‘’214. (1) There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution -(a) the Nigeria Police Force shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an act of the National Assembly;(b) the members of the Nigeria Police shall have such powers and duties as maybe conferred upon them by law;(c) the National Assembly may make provisions for branches of the Nigeria Police Force forming part of the armed forces of the Federation or for the protection of harbours, waterways, railways and air fields.’’

In Section 215. we are told: ” (1) There shall be – (a) an Inspector-General of Police who, subject to section 216(2) of this Constitution shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force;(b) a Commissioner of Police for each state of the Federation who shall be appointed by the Police Service Commission.(2) The Nigeria Police Force shall be under the command of the Inspector-General of Police and contingents of the Nigeria Police Force stationed in a state shall, subject to the authority of the Inspector-General of Police, be under the command of the Commissioner of Police of that state.(3) The President or such other Minister of the Government of the Federation as he may authorise in that behalf may give to the Inspector-General of Police such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary, and the Inspector-General of Police shall comply with those direction or cause them to be compiled with. (4) Subject to the provisions of this section, the Governor of a state or such Commissioner of the Government state as he may authorise in that behalf, may give to the Commissioner of Police of that state such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the state as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with: Provided that before carrying out any such directions under the foregoing provisions of this subsection the Commissioner of Police may request that the matter be referred to the President or such minister of the Government of the Federation as may be authorised in that behalf by the President for his directions.

These provisions written in the commonest of the English language did not authorise the Nigeria police force to transform into a killer squad that it has become.

So I ask; why was citizen Ifeoma killed by the police? she was killed because official impunity and lawlessness by the enforcers of the law has assumed a larger-than life matter even as those who have killed hundreds of innocent Nigerians are still in the policing system and are holding top positions because the systemic rot has made it possible to allow the progressive advancement of all sorts of crooks and killers in the Nigeria police force. President Olusegun Obasanjo as he then was, told us that robbers and prostitutes have found their ways into the Nigeria Nigeria Police Force. However, there ought to be a statutory checks and balances.

The constitution created the police service commission to check the excesses of the police but those who enforce these provisions have made sure that the police service commission becomes and operates like a contraption. This is why Ifeoma got killed because the statute stipulating the functions and powers of the police service commission have been continuously thwarted and sabotaged from both within and without just as the police service commission ACT ought to stop all these lawlessness but then if you check how recklessly unprofessional hundreds of thousands of police operatives are, you will agree with me that the laws setting up this disciplinary commission for the police has been desecrated.

Specifically, the Functions and Powers of the Commission 6. (1) The Commission shall-

(a) Be responsible for the appointment and promotion of persons to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force

(b) Dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over Persons (other than the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force;

(c) Formulate polices and guidelines for the appointment, promotion, discipline and dismissal of officers of the Nigeria Police Force;

(d) Identify factors inhibiting or undermining discipline in the Nigeria Police Force;

(e) Formulate and implement policies aimed at the efficiency and discipline to the Nigeria Police Force;

(f) Perform such other functions which in. the opinion of the Commission are required to ensure the optimal efficiency of the Nigeria Police Force; and

(g) Carry out such other functions as the President may, from time to time, direct.

(2) The Commission shall not be subject to the direction, control or supervision of any other authority or person in the performance of its functions other than as is prescribed in this Act.

7. The Commission shall have power to-

(a) Pay the staff of the Commission such remuneration and allowances as are payable to persons of equivalent grades in the Civil Service of the Federation;

(b) Enter into such contracts as may be necessary or expedient for the discharge of its functions and ensure the efficient performance of the functions of the Commission; and

(c) Do such other things as are necessary and expedient for the efficient performance of the functions of the Commission.

8. The Commission may, subject to such conditions as it may think fit, delegate any of its powers under this Act-

(a) To any officer in the service of the Nigeria Police Force ; or (b) To a committee consisting of such number of persons, one of whom shall be named as Chairman, as may be prescribed by the Commission.

So since there is a lack of effectice checks and balances, Miss. Ifeoma fell to the crude form of policing tactics that is criminal in nature in Nigeria which both the executive, legislative and judicial systems have collectively failed to stop.

Those populating the leadership cadre of these arms of government constitute the corrosive elite that have messed up the nation.

The elites in Nigeria do not blink an eye when the likes of Ifeoma Abugu is brutally killed.

This is because their children are all in European schools and America where they collectively took our public resources and diverted to their personal accounts.

These kids of the privileged elites are not the victims of the oppressive and dehumanizing crude policing tactics. So Nigeria does not care even if the national human rights commission (NHRC) is gravely undermined and administered as a barking dog with no teeth to bite

The question to ask is why is Nigeria such a dysfunctional place whereby the under privileged are killed by the police daily without any accountability, but yet the country is part of the commonwealth system and the United Nations system?.

Reading through the manual on human rights training for police in commonwealth West African countries, the then deputy secretary as at 2005 Florence Magasha wrote as follows:

“United in their diversity, all 53 members of the commonwealth hold certain principles in common. These principles include peace, democracy and good governance, and respect for human rights and the rule of law, as embodied in the 1971 Declaration of Commonwealth Principles and the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration In upholding these and in pursuing the ideals on which the Commonwealth is based – ideals of peaceful and stable, just and equitable, and prosperous societies – the importance of observing the rule of law cannot be overstated In serving and protecting their communities, police and law enforcement officials play a vital role. They are duty-bound to enforce the law. However, the manner in which such officials carry out their duties contributes to the, sort of conditions in which human and economic development and flourishing is possible

The preambles of some gloal humam rifhts laws states as follows: ‘’Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Preamble United Nations General Assembly, 1948)

Also we are told that: “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.”(Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, Article 2 United Nations General Assembly, 1979).

Besides, “We believe in the liberty of the individual, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief”(Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, Singapore 1971).

A code of conduct provides the basis for professional and ethical behaviour of all law enforcement officials .All the actions of police officers must be compatible with the following principles:• Respect for, and obedience to, the law.• Respect for the dignity of the human person.• Respect for, and protection of, human rights.

What criteria might be used for the measurement of acceptable and professional police behaviour? The following principles, norms and values can serve as criteria (measurements) for ethical and professional police behaviour respect for liberty and equality of every person, , service; truth; -property; and life. These Commonwealth principles are commonsensical and rational and these steps and measures are not rocket science. Do we continue to allow the trigger happy and rogue police operatives kill more IFEOMAS, OLUS, AHMADUS? We must stop these police terrorism on the underprivileged citizens who are in their tens of millions. Nigerians, rise and defend your NON NEGOTIABLE HUMAN RIGHTS TO LIFE BECAUSE ONCE YOU GET KILLED, THAT ENDS ALL YOUR HUMAN RIGHTS EVEN IF JUSTICE WEIGHS STRONGLY OB THE KILLER, THE DEAD HAS DIED FOREVER.

* EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs @www. huriwa.blogspot.com, http://www.huriwanigeria.com.

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