By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA-A retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Austin Iwa has accused security agencies in the country of being one of the biggest violators of human rights.
AIG Iwa stated this in an interactive forum, with the theme, “Equality, Justice and Human Dignity” organized by the Abuja Zuma Deck of the National Association of Seadogs, NAS (Pyrates Confraternity) to mark the 2019 World Human Rights Day.
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He said that the military mentality was still much in the country despite the fact Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, adding that it was only the Police that prepared psychologically for the transition to democracy by introducing Community Policing.
He also stated that violation of human rights leads to civil unrest and in some cases hampers effective investigation.
He said it is the responsibility of the Police to promote human rights because there is the need to have confidence in the police and need to develop the system.
According to him, “One of the biggest violators of human rights is the security agencies. All of us have seen what had happened in a couple of days in the Federal High Court which is a gross violation of rights of even the court itself.
” The sanctity of the court was violated, I have not heard it in any democracy except maybe in authoritarian state which makes us look like authoritarian state. Some of us believe that there are about three places that you can run to, to get protection. If you don’t get protection in those areas something is wrong.
“Police Station is number one. If you run to the Police Station, you get protection. The second place is the Church /Mosque and then the court.
“Violation of human rights erodes the confidence in law enforcement. It isolates the Police from the community and also exacerbate civil unrest. We have seen it in Nigeria where a violation leads to civil unrest that leads to bread down of law and order.
“It hampers effective prosecution because if you violating the law, which means investigation will not be properly conducted and makes police officers to be reactive “
“We are supposed to be in a democracy that started in 1999. There was no psychological transition for Nigerians and even our leaders for them to transit from an attitude that perceives everybody’s action as violent prone.
“We still have military mentality in our heads about solving problems. The institutions that are supposed to protect human rights did not also undergo any form of transition in terms of their processes, their system and in terms of their philosophy of service delivery.
“So every one of them still maintains the characteristics of post military way of doing things.
The Zuma Deck President of NAS, Amderson Oseh told participants that the association fears nobody when it wants to confront any act of human rights abuse and also renders pro bono services to those whose rights are infringed upon but are unable to hire the services of lawyers.
He said, “NAS objective is to ensure that the right of human beings are secured wherever they find themselves. As a matter of fact, we have over the years played a very fundamental role ensuring that where peoples fundamental rights are bridged, we make sure that the rights are reclaimed.
“We have lawyers within the organization doing pro Bono services for people in the community whose rights have been trampled upon but who cannot afford legal fees.”
Participants at the forum included Police officers, members of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers, Civil Society Organisation and members of the Pyrates Confraternity.