By Victor Arjiromanus
Under-funding of the Police has been attributed to the cause of disrespect for Human Rights of citizens by policemen in the country.
This assertion was dropped by Crime Victim Foundation, CRIVIFON , a Non Government Organisation , at the graduation of 200 policemen who underwent a training on Human Rights, at Area ‘F’, Ikeja, Lagos.
Speaking at the occasion, Executive Director, CRIVIFON, Mrs Gloria Egbuji, said ” the main issue we have over the continued infractions of human rights by the police is under-funding by the government. What do you expect when they have no adequate funds to operate.
“Sometimes, policing is left in the hands of the Police alone. They carry out certain responsibilities from their own pockets. Sometimes, when they take suspects to prisons, they buy statement forms from their own money. Sometimes, they fuel vehicles from their pockets So, Human Rights Violation will continue if we don’t inject funds for their operations”.
Speaking on the importance of the training to policemen in carrying out their responsibilities, she said that the training had been impactful and relevant in the operations of the police men.
She however, noted that , “change of attitude is a slow process. But we have been successful in carrying out the awareness and at least, today, we have Human Rights Desk in all the police stations. Remember they were people who didn’t know what human right was and now, they do.
“We are confident that out of the 200 policemen we trained, at least, 200 of them could abide by the what they learned. My hope is that, it will work through consistency and continuous .
On the part of the citizens, she hinted that the organisation had been making effort to educate them on their human rights.
She said, “Many of them are not aware that bail is free. When they go to the station to bail somebody, they go with money.
On his part, the Lagos State Director of Public Procurement Dr. Gbadebo Oshoala, expressed optimism that the police would improve, saying, ‘I feel what they are doing is very important. Like in every society,they cannot wipe out negativity once. For instance, in USA, you will still see that police officers are arrested and tracked down for killing innocent people, either black or white. But, the impact of the training has a long way to go and I believe that policemen will be better off with it”.
Addressing the graduands, Oshoala, said, ” You are not to treat people without dignity but are meant to give them their due regard and respect. People that committed no offence should be protected.
“As police officers, you have to protect the society, protect the people and their property. So you are not allowed to abuse such power and deal with them negatively.’
‘You know that there are lots of abnormal thing that we see and that is why the law is there. The law is there to protect the people and if your right is abused, go to court and enforce it and ask for damages”.
One of the graduands who is also the Operational Commander, Human Rights, Area B, Supor Toyin Ojo, expressed delight in partaking in the training, stressing that it would help her in her duties.
She said, “This program will help me very well because as an OC, Human Right, I need the knowledge of what Human Right is about. Human right course is something that has to do with the right and dignity of a person in the society.
“Police men are always dealing with human beings and in most cases during interrogations and investigations they apply force but the human rights course has opened our eyes to the manner the police should deal with humans, and to also give them their rights when and during the course of this investigations”.