…Reacts to IGP’s decision.
Following the dehumanization and killings of innocent Nigerians by the special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Obidike Chukwuebuka, Ambassador to the Economic Financial Crime Commission, EFCC and Entrepreneur has charged Nigerian government to improve access to justice, reform the NPF, establish a culture of respect for human rights within the NPF.
Disclosing this in a statement he sent to Vanguard, Obidike advised FG to ensure that victims and their families have access to justice, and put an end to impunity of police officers which is the only way to guarantee that changes to the law are effective.
His words: “Extrajudicial executions, other unlawful killings and enforced disappearances in Nigeria are not random. In a country where bribes guarantee safety, those who cannot afford to pay are at risk of being shot or tortured to death by the police. The families of the victims often cannot afford to seek justice or redress, because they cannot pay for a lawyer or the court fees. In many cases, they cannot even afford to retrieve the body.
He stressed that disregard for human rights is prevalent within the police force. Detainees are often denied their legal right to see a lawyer. Many have to pay for food or medical care, or to avoid being tortured or otherwise ill-treated. In many cases, detainees wait for weeks or months in police custody to be charged and brought before a court.
“The rule of law ought to reign supreme over arbitrary and capricious exercise of police power. The fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens including the constitutional rights of criminal suspects, detainees and even criminal convicts are clearly stipulated in our 1999 Constitution. Every citizen is presumed innocent until proved guilty by a court of law of competent jurisdiction. Suspicion, no matter how probable or grounded, cannot secure a criminal conviction. A police officer or any law enforcement agents, in a bid to detect crime or apprehend an offender, may stop any citizen for a search or questioning, but on the condition that he first identifies himself as a police officer by stating his names, police station and the grounds for the questioning or the search.
“If the police man fails to sufficiently identify himself as aforesaid, then the citizen is not obliged to submit himself for a search or questioning. Any person who is arrested or detained shall have the right to remain silent or avoid answering any question from the police until after consultation with his legal practitioner of his own choice. Also any person who is arrested or detained shall be informed in writing within 24 hours in the language in which he understands of the facts and grounds for his arrests or detention. And where a person has been arrested either for the purpose of charging him to court or upon reasonable commission of an offence, such a person must be charged to court within a reasonable time not exceeding 48 hours failure for which he should be granted bail pending appeal.
He said, “The police are also affected by a severe shortage of funds. Only a fragment of the NPF annual budget reaches state and local police stations and the lack of funding and resources contributes to many of the failures within the police force. Police officers work without basic equipment and sometimes make crime victims pay for petrol and stationery necessary to conduct the investigation. In these conditions, corruption quickly becomes the norm. The difficulties of ending extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings in Nigeria are considerable, but not insurmountable.
Ambassador Obidike further, commended the IGP for banning FSARS, other police tactical units from stop-and-search duties and urged the relevant security authorities to conduct investigations and serve justice.
He later, “charged Nigerians to be of good behavior and obey the laws of the country.” he concluded.