*Demands legal sanctions for violators of human rights in uniform:
As news spread that a yet-to-be-identified personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC on Friday assaulted a shop owner, Mrs. Joy Owolabi at the Nanmwa Junction, Abattoir area, Jos South local government area of Plateau State, leading to serious injuries on her eyes and other parts of her body, the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned this and multiple other incidents including that of the Ekiti born gospel singer Mr. Yinka Ayefele.
HURIWA is calling on the publicly funded National Human Rights Commission to wake up to her responsibilities and prosecute human rights violators rather than its current civil service approach to the promotion and protection of citizens human rights which are violated with wanton ignominy by duty bearing and armed bearing security forces.
HURIWA which recalled media report that the Jos incident happened a few meters away from the office of the organisation, although the victim had reported the incident, the organisation is yet to apprehend the personnel and his accomplice who assaulted her, also called for the introduction of compulsory drugs tests by the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on all armed bearing operatives of the nation’s security forces because of the prevalent abuses of hard drugs by most of these armed security operatives.
Specifically, HURIWA recalled the media report that before the Friday incident, it was gathered that sometime last month, the said personnel (whom Mrs. Owolabi could identify facially as she does not know his name,) came to the betting shop next to the victim’s shop and parked his official motorcycle in front of Mrs Owolabi’s shop, blocking her entrance and she called his attention to re-park the motorcycle but she was ignored and an argument ensued.
Besides, on that Friday, the personnel returned to the betting shop with his colleague and parked his motorcycle in the similar manner that the woman complained about. The incident led to an exchange of words between him and the shop owner. Instead of parking his motorcycle properly, the victim and some eyewitnesses confirmed, he punched the victim, pushed her to the ground and started flogging her with a wire as neighbours and passersby watch helplessly. None could rescue the woman as the assaulter and his colleague were armed.
The Rights group quoted the victim Mrs. Owolabi as alleging that, “I was in my shop on the 2nd of September, 2022, at about noon, I saw two men in uniform, they were from the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, they rode into my shop. One stood by the roadside and the second one came to the entrance of my shop.
“They came with an official motorcycle, when the man parked, blocking the entrance of my shop, I went and met him and said please, help me re-park this motorcycle because the way you parked, I cannot enter the shop.
HURIWA said the victim of the human rights abuses by the armed operatives of the civil defence further narrated her ordeals: “My neighbour who is the Naijabet Manager also came out and saw the way the man parked the motorcycle; he started pleading with the man to re-park it. As we were talking, the man punched me in my left eye and I fell to the ground.
“As I was trying to stand up, he punched me in the second eye. He removed the wire and started flogging me. They came in armed so people were afraid of coming to my rescue and when this thing was going on, people were just watching.
“After flogging me, the two of them left with the motorcycle. When they left, I locked my shop and went to their office which is not far from my shop to report.”
Similarly, HURIWA recalled that few days back, some residents of Ekiti State had condemned the physical assault on a popular Nigerian gospel singer, Mr Yinka Ayefele by an operative of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
Besides, Ayefele was said to have been punched on his lips by a yet-to-be-identified officer during an altercation between them just as sources told journalists in Ado Ekiti, that the security agent also threatened to shoot the Ipoti Ekiti-born singer after resisting his forceful attempt to take money from Ayefele’s car.
HURIWA recalled that when contacted, Mr Ayefele confirmed the physical assault on him by the NSCDC officer.
HURIWA quoted the founder of Fresh FM Nigeria as alleging thus, “I was moving out in my car after entertaining guests, the officer suddenly dipped his hand into my car to take my money but I resisted him and told him what he did was very wrong.
That was how he gave me a punch on my mouth, I had cut on my lips and blood started gushing out. When I called my security detail to hold him he stood in the front of my car corking his rifle and threatening to shoot me.
HURIWA quoted Ayefele to have affirmed further that: “At that point, his colleagues came and I explained what he did to them. While trying to shield him, they said why am I fighting them, that I am a public figure and I don’t want to give them something? I said if I didn’t want to give him something, I wouldn’t have stopped, wind down my car. I have settled the area boys and others. I wept profusely, because they did this to me because I am physically challenged.
They later brought the guy who came to collect money for the area boys said to have been beaten while trying to take the money away, telling me to see how he was beaten and attacked him with sharp objects just to frame me up but I have put my lawyer in the know”.
HURIWA which condemned these and many unreported incidents of physical brutality of the citizens by the Civil Defence Corps and many other armed security forces stated that empirical evidence has shown that there is a high preponderance of addictions to and intakes of all sorts of hard drugs and chemical substances by armed security operatives which the Rights group said are some of the causative factors of the primitive maltreatments and the physical torture and assaults unleashed intermittently by these trigger happy unprofessional and ethically indiscipline armed security operatives which has necessitated the urgent advocacy on the Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa led NDLEA to urgently introduce guidelines backed up by a legal framework to be passed by the National Assembly for the constant drug tests of armed security operatives to ascertain their sanity and soundness to bear arms and to operate amongst law abiding civil populace.
HURIWA through the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko condemned these atrocious, reprehensible, despicable and dangerous trends of physical attacks of citizens by mostly armed operatives of the National Civil Defence Corps as recently recorded from all over the Country just as the Rights group said the National Human Rights Commission and the Public Complaints Commission have since gone moribund and incapable of aggressively going after violators of the lawfully protected fundamental human rights of the citizens but these publicly funded institutions ought to be made to come back to be alive to their mandates because if they are proactive and actively alive to their statutory functions, these brutes in publicly funded uniforms won’t be seen unleashing devastating human rights abuses on the same citizens that the taxpayers are maintaining their institutions to serve.
HURIWA is calling for the arrest, prosecution and sanction of these lawless officers of the civil defence Corp that allegedly attacked these identified citizens in Jos Plateau State North central Nigeria and Ekiti State South West of Nigeria.
HURIWA regretted that since the emergence of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015 with his attitude of not penalising his poorly performing aides and appointees the institutions that ought to be working optimally to ensure the respect for the rule of law have themselves become lawless and have gone about their duties with no decorum or adherence to the rule of law or the provisions of the Grund Norm with specific reference to the constitutionally protected human rights of the citizens as enshrined in chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution.
The Rights group is therefore asking President Muhammadu Buhari to wake up from executive slumber and inertia and to arrest the anarchy and impunity that have permeated a lot of the Federal government agencies right under his watch or else the civil populace may be forced to seek for redress by every other means including the resort to self help measures.