*Hails new OPSH commander over adopted measures to halt recurrences

rights abuse in Plateau

By Joseph Erunke

A civil society organisation, Global Peace and Life Rescue Initiative, GOPRI, has taken a swipe at the excesses of law enforcement agents particularly men of the Operation Safe Haven in dealing with innocent citizens in Plateau State, saying authorities must rise up immediately to stop increasing cases of rights abuse by them in the state.

The group’s reaction came against the backdrop of the recent killing of innocent 300 level student of the University of Jos, Rinji Peter Bala, by personnel of the internal security outfit in the state.

Regretting that the security personnel being paid with taxpayers’ money to protect citizens have turned against the people they were being paid to defend, GOPRI said “enough is enough” for the security personnel to engage in such dastardly act.

Executive Director of GOPRI, Amb. Melvin Ejeh, in a statement to this effect, Sunday, in Abuja, said in as much as his organisation detested crime in whatever way, caution must be taken in handling citizens.

Noting that the killing of innocent persons in the state had become too numerous to be condoned, GOPRI said even suspects must be seen as innocent until proven otherwise.

According to him, the state government and other authorities concern must immediately do something to stop what he called the “inhuman acts” before the ugly situation gets out of hand.

“We wish to strongly condemn the reckless, barbaric, senseless and continued gross abuse of human rights in Plateau State by men of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) without any known reprimand,” the statement said.

Noting with sadness that the gruesome murder of Bala, an undergraduate of the University of Jos in cold blood was without any form of provocation, Ejeh said the dastardly act by unprofessional personnel of Operation Safe Haven must not only be investigated but that the culprit must be prosecuted accordingly.

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“We are deeply saddened by the loss of this young leader who was caught short in his prime.

“We are demanding within seven days from the date of the incident the summary dismissal from the force and handing over of the suspect to the Nigeria Police Criminal Investigation Department for prosecution,” he said.

GOPRI, according to Amb. Ejeh was “working with other organisations towards instituting a fundamental human rights enforcement action against the OPSH in court.”

He, however, commended the new Commander of OPSH, Major General Okonkwo, for instituting new measures aimed at halting the reckless actions of the internal security personnel.

“We wish to strongly commend the new Commander of Operation Safe Haven, Major General CC Okonkwo, who has demonstrated genuine sense of responsibility and commitment to human rights and professional conduct.

“This is the first in a while that OPSH will openly admit to the killing of an innocent victim, and also immediately take to custody the offender for discipline,” he said, adding that: “This is a sharp departure from what we recently know with OPSH where families of victims and citizens were intimidated and culprit shielded.”

“We are glad about this show of commitment to justice, transparency and sincerity in handling issue of human rights abuse in the state,” Ejeh said.

According to him, “We are further convinced that the era of wilful murder, cover-up and intimidation of victims family is now over on the Plateau.”

“This, we think, is a right step in the right direction and we must strongly commend the new commander and his men for chatting a new cause of Justice,” he stressed.

He condoled the families of the bereaved over the said incidence.

” Our heart goes to the family and friends of Mr Rinji Peter Bala, the people and government of Plateau State,” he said

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