Dissatisfied with the handling so far by the Nigeria Police Force FCT Command of a matter involving the recent physical brutality of one of the drivers of the Honourable minister of State for FCT, the Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has approached the National Assembly to urge the Committees on Public petitions to institute a transparent and unbiased investigation of remote and immediate circumstances surrounding the alleged physical torture of the driver of the Honourable minister of State for FCT by name Mr. Idoko by an unruly mob watched and participated by armed policemen at the National Secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Abuja recently.
HURIWA said it decided to take the bull by the horn by approaching the powerful Committees of the two Chambers of the National Assembly on Public petitions to ask them to subject to scrutiny the clear refusal of the Police authority to comply by the various human rights related provisions embedded in the extant 2020 Nigerian Police Act just as the Rights group said it is shocking that the armed policemen participated allegedly in a lawless action by some persons at the National Secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress to illegally brand the driver of the Honourable minister of State for FCT a thief and therefore set him up for lynch mob attack which then compelled the entourage of the Honourable minister of State for FCT to intervene and rescue the poor driver from bring illegally killed.
The prominent civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA said the decision to approach the National Assembly is because of the clear allegations that the police operatives at the APC’S national headquarters in Abuja may have instigated the mob to attempt to lynch the driver of the Honourable minister of State for FCT just as the Rights group said it is seriously concerned about the alarming statistics that only in May 2022, 32 cases of jungle justice were reported in Nigeria. Most of these mob actions have resulted in gruesome, inhumane torture and extra-judicial killing of people accused of committing an offence. Dozens have suffered death through beatings or burning even as many were innocent.
The Rights group recalled that the recent lynching of David Imoh in Lagos has once again centred jungle justice in the national discourse, leading to concerned citizens calling on authorities to make committed efforts to end this barbarous practice. Therefore the emerging allegations that the driver of the Honourable minister of State for FCT was almost lynched with the alleged active connivance of the police operatives is a crime we are convinced should be investigated by the National Assembly.
HURIWA affirmed that mob actions have had a long history and predate Nigeria. It was pervasive in the United States as a tool white America used in terrorising its black population. This system of extra-judicial execution sometimes based on false accusations, such as the case of the Aluu 4, or on flimsy arguments like the dispute over a N100 change that cost Mr Imoh his life in Lagos, has become the bane of the Nigerian state and its woeful justice system.
Citing a recent report that between 2020 and 2021, nearly 200 persons lost their lives in reported cases of jungle justice in Nigeria, according to a report by the Daily Trust newspaper, HURIWA said it will be asking the Senate President to be personally interested in this instance. This figure documents only cases that have been reported in the media. While 83 deaths were recorded in 2020, the figure rose to 107 the following year. With rising hate, rising poverty and a staggering failure of the law and justice system in the country fears that the numbers will increase for 2022 are not misplaced.
In several instances, mobs have opted to dish out this form of justice because they mistrusted the law, law enforcers and the justice process. This largely stems from a lack of diligent investigation and prosecution of suspects, the complicity of law enforcement in suspects’ escape from justice and the painfully slow wheels of justice in Nigeria with court cases dragging for years while thousands of suspects await trial.
The cases have been exacerbated by state-sanctioned extra-judicial killings. In the early 2000s, state-backed vigilantes in the southeast, otherwise called Bakassi Boys, went on a public lynching spree of suspects after they were given a free rein by the governors in the region to help curb crime. It was the clearest demonstration of the failings of the justice system up to that point.
While these extra-judicial killings often drag out for hours, it beggars belief that the police are hardly ever at hand to stop them. In other instances, it would appear the police directly sanction the killings.
Miss Ibisobia Elkannah for instance, witnessed the murder of her own brother and his friends in Aluu, Rivers State, in 2012, when on a visit to a friend she heard a commotion outside. Upon investigation, she found her brother and three others being tortured by a crowd for alleged robbery, a false accusation from a debtor they had gone to collect money from. Her attempts to speak for her brother led to direct threats against her own life and in an interview, she recounts how the police arrived at the scene, talked with the mob and then drove off laughing, just before her brother and his friends were burnt alive.
The increasing spread of jungle justice in the country and recourse to it is a clear signal for authorities to wake up to their responsibility of ensuring law and order and upholding justice. These actions, if left unchecked, could trigger widespread conflicts, as demonstrated in the Dei-Dei market recently, where reckless driving and lynching led to a violent confrontation between different groups. The resultant deaths and losses in business may seem small compared to other violent clashes in the country, but it is a warning of the anarchy to come if this dangerous impulse is not contained.
The authorities must draw a line in the sand and make clear examples of recent incidents by diligently hunting down leaders of such ravenous mobs, and making a public example of their trial and sentencing. This should serve as a deterrent to others.
The HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA thinks that authorities must do the most important aspect on their part. This is to bolster the police to provide adequate security cover to the country, train and retrain the police on suspect handling in a fair, just and transparent fashion, and the importance of being accountable to the people they are sworn to protect. The justice system as a whole must be reformed to deliver justice with a swift and steady hand and in a transparent manner that will remove doubt from the minds of citizens and engender trust in the process.
Authorities must act now before these extra-judicial killings and self-help ‘justice’ snowball into a dangerous avalanche that could consume thousands of lives and lead to a complete breakdown of law and order.
HURIWA said it has looked at closely the
DUTIES OF THE POLICE FORCE from what are enshrined in the new binding law of the nation’s policing institution on law enforcement guidelines and a careful, meticulous and cursory review of the NPF Act shows that the frontiers of the Force operations has been expanded to facilitate the achievement of its general objective which is to provide an effective police service that complies with the principles of accountability, transparency, protection of human rights and freedom.
HURIWA submits that for instance Section 4 of the Act is replete with extensive functions of the Force, notably, imposing an obligation and a binding constitutionally protected duty on the police to protect the rights and freedom of every Nigerian in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and other applicable laws.
HURIWA affirmed that while the good intention of these provisions are somewhat visible, it is hard to reconcile this with the reality of many victims of police brutality where they are unjustly profiled by the police as criminals and arrested immediately. There is a reasonable fear that this provision will give police officers the legal backing to perpetuate wanton arrests. But the Act via Sec. 35(3) mandates the Police to notify the next of kin or relative(s) of the suspect immediately after the arrest of the suspect. Nonetheless, no suspect shall be accorded inhumane treatment in any form including torture, cruelty, inhumane or degrading treatment.If a suspect is arrested and detained for more than 24 hours where a non-capital offence has been committed, his lawyer or relatives can notify any court that has jurisdiction to try the matter about his arrest in a bid to prevent an unlawful detention.
HURIWA said it will also be seeking the actions of the National Assembly through her committees on Police Affairs to compel the men and officers of the Nigerian police to comply totally with provisions of the new police Act especially the provision compared to what legal authorities called “Miranda Warning” just as the new Act adopts the popular practice of informing the suspect prior to interrogation or arrest of his right to remain silent or avoid answering any question, until after consultation with a counsel or any other person of his choice.
HURIWA is now approaching the National Assembly today through the Committees on public petitions, the offices of the Senate President and the Honourable Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives to seek redress for this flagrant abuses of the constitutionally protected human rights of Mr.Idoko by some mobs, police and watched by the many police operatives at the National Secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
HURIWA also expressed shock that the Honourable minister of State for FCT whose driver was brutalised and had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment is being dragged to a phantom incident that a section of the media misrepresented as an assault on some media practitioners without making reference to the wanton violations of the constitutionally protected human rights of the Driver to the Minister who could have been killed in the presence of many police operatives who are now cooking up a different tales by moonlight to deflate the severity of their crime against Mr Idoko the driver to the Honourable minister of State for FCT.
HURIWA in a media Statement said it has been told that the Commissioner of Police in the FCT may have been told different but fake story by the offending police operatives responsible for the severe physical brutality meted out on the driver of the Honourable minister of State for FCT because signal reaching our desk is of the view that the FCT police hierarchy may have taken sides with their operatives who committed these horrendous and despicable crime of human rights violations on this poor Nigerian and if the office of the IGP is not informed of this primitive act of injustice and brutality on a Nigerian citizen then there would be no possible redress and punishment for the offending police operatives who are now twisting the narratives against the victim of their spectacular human rights abuse. HURIWA says it will take up the matter to ensure that justice is done.
The Civil Rights body said her attention was called to this brazen crimininal act of deprivation of the fundamental human rights of Mr.Idoko by some media workers affiliated to the organisation just as the Rights group said: “The incident happened on the 18th of August, 2022 at the APC National party secretariat where Her Excellency, the Minister of State, FCT, Hajia Ramatu Tijni Aliyu was present as she was part of the committee that was inaugurated for North – West support for Tinubu. Outside the event venue, it was reported that one of Her Excellency ‘s drivers was being beaten up and in a pool of his blood with Police officers and other civilians being present, the driver was accused wrongly and criminally of being a thief. He was rescued and rushed to the hospital for medical attention after the mob was duly informed that the driver is not a thief, rather he is a driver of Her Excellency.
The Police officers and the CSO attached to the Party Secretariat who were assaulting him alleged that the driver assaulted them, which was not the case as the driver was rather being assaulted by them to the point of injuries.”
HURIWA through the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko stated that from her preliminary investigation, it would seem that the security chief of the All Progressive Congress’s National Secretariat was overzealous by not exercising his powers judiciously and in civility but descended to the arena of arrogance of power by instigating allegedly the physical torture of the driver of the Honourable minister of State for FCT Mr. IDOKO whose human rights to the dignity of his person, his rights to liberty and his right to life enshrined in chapter 4 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria of 999 as amended was almost threatened even as he suffered spectacular physical bruises and psychological and emotional trauma which we are calling on the National Human Rights Commission to investigate even as we are urging the Inspector General of Police to exercise his powers to ensure that the police operatives who took part passively or actively in this brazen act of violence are brought to book.
“We in the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) are happy to observed that under newly passed and signed POLICE ACT OF 2020 a revelation the Act that the ambit of the Force operations has been broadened to facilitate the achievement of its general objective which is to provide an effective police service that complies with the principles of accountability, transparency, protection of human rights and freedom. Section 4 of the Act is replete with extensive functions of the Force, notably, imposing an obligation on the police to protect the rights and of every Nigerian in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and other applicable laws. HURIWA is so far satisfied with the newly found optimism on the part of the Inspector General of Police Alhaji Usman Alkali Baba to instil professional excellence and dexterity to the duty of the police of Nigeria and we have no doubt that his office will ensure that this poor Nigerian citizen whose rights are abused by the police operatives alongside other members of the unruly mob are brought to justice and his rights the were abused redressed satisfactorily”.
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA). August 28th 2022.