The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) Ebonyi chapter has tasked officers of the Nigeria Police Force to maintain high level of professionalism as they engaged in operation ‘PUFF ADDER’ in Ebonyi.
Mr Musa Kimo, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of zone 6 recently inaugurated ‘PUFF ADDER’ to curb crime, criminal activities and boundary clashes in some parts of the state.
Mr Jeremiah Oyibe, state secretary of the CDHR in Ebonyi, in a statement on Friday in Abakaliki condemned alleged excesses and unprofessional conduct of some officers involved in the operation.
He alleged that the group had received reports of cases of rights violations, including unwarranted intimidation, harassment, unlawful arrests and the ‘disproportionate’ use of force to crack down suspected cultists.
The group said the ‘PUFF ADDER’ in the state would curb menace of crime and criminal activities including armed robbery, cultism and boundary clashes.
He said that the police had in the past one week engaged in a clampdown of suspected cultists due to recent outbreak of cult clashes among different rival cult groups in some parts of the state.
The rights activist regretted that the activities of the police took a new dimension as they now arrested indiscriminately, innocent citizens without considering whether those allegedly arrested were members of cult groups or not.
“People are no longer free to move in the night nor gather together for their meetings and other activities without being intimidated, harassed or even arrested over a trumped up allegation.
“We have received series of reports but unconfirmed cases of such arbitrary arrests, harassment, intimidation and unlawful detention of innocent citizens of this state by the police.
“We want to appeal to the Commissioner of Police in the state to ensure that his men and officers involved in the operation ‘PUFF ADDER’ exhibits high level of professionalism and eschew any act that can disregard the law and rights of the people.
“Our country is governed by set of rules and laws as enshrined in the 1999 constitution as amended, and we expect that the police will respect our laws as they discharge their duties,” Oyibe said.
Meanwhile, Mrs Lovett Odah, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in an interview with newsmen denied any unprofessional misconduct by the officers and men of the command involved in crime bursting operations in the state.
She called on citizens who have any claim of rights abuse by the police to report such at the command’s Headquarters for appropriate sanction.
“Our officers are highly disciplined and know the consequences of any unprofessional and unconstitutional conduct as the command do not hesitate to sanction any officer caught engaging in acts of professional misconduct,” Odah said.