IKULE

Mr. Ikule Emmanuel is the National Coordinator Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN Foundation). He recently shared his thought with Security News Alert on the two years anniversary of the #EndSARS Protest.

 

Two years after, where is Nigeria now in terms of respect for human rights?

Respect for Human Rights is a scarce resource in Nigeria since the Buhari Administration (Regime) started. Nigerians see Nigeria as militarised, a totalitarian country, not a democracy.

Despite the gains of #EndSARS, human right is still scarce, as can be seen during the #EndSARs first anniversary, where many persons were brutalised, packed in trucks like sardines, despite issues of COVID-19, tortured and detained and some protesters are still detention centres in Nigeria.

Did it achieve its aim, considering the fact that there are still pockets of police harassment and brutality?

After the protest, many human rights violations happened, to mention a few. First, there was post #EndSARS human rights abuses and issues. #EndSARS protesters still in police custody. Attack on Police Institutions, stations and officers. Attacks on Peaceful Protesters in Lagos and clamping down on Protesters in Abuja in October 2021. There is also the arrest of  Nnamdi Kanu and Igboho, Oyigbo Massacre, in Port Harcourt by the Army, where youths were killed. There was the destruction of lives, livelihood, and communities in Konshisha, Benue State by the Army. Again, attacks and displacement on the Tiv Tribe in Taraba State in the presence of the Army and their refusal to intervene or allow the Tiv to defend themselves. There were also the attacks on South-East-Army, IPOB and unknown gunmen-citizens. Youths are being killed daily in the name of their being IPOB members. Clampdown on media houses, mass abduction in the north, attack on Kaduna Airport and railway station, freeing of Boko haram members in Nigeria, attack on correctional centre and others too numerous to mention.

Would you regard the protest as a successful one?

Yes, the protest was successful, because it brought to the fore, issues that have been plaguing the country. The culture of human right abuse gained national recognition and enabled the government to be more responsive despite its unlawful nature.  As a result of the #EndSARS protest, more persons can now stand up for their rights as a departure from what was before #EndSARS. The passage of the Police Act 2020, the passage of the VAPP Act, ACJA in states to curb impunity, the passage of the compulsory treatment and of gunshot victim Act in different states, the formation of the Board of Nigerian Police Trust Fund (NPTF 2019), purchase of buffalo trucks for Police by NPTF, purchase of security equipment’s by some state governments like Rivers State, the public hearing on Police Service Commission Act 2020, establishment Act of Police Training Institute, a compilation of all police reform reports in Nigeria by NHRC and CSOs, formation of the Board of Trustees of the NHRC and release of protesters without bail money as has been the case before. There was also a decongestion of correctional centres, formation of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry in 30 States in Nigeria including Abuja, compensation of some survivors of police abuses, disciplinary measures against erring Police Officers, 20% increment of police salary, the appointment of new service chiefs and implementation of projects on Police reforms in Nigeria. This gave room for more collaboration with the Police and capacity building for the Police. There was also pressure from International organisations for serious efforts to police reforms.

What’s the way forward after #ENDSARS?

There is a need to entrench rights respecting the system of justice, fairness and equity in our systems in Nigeria absence of these, it would be the same old stories without a solution. There is a need for re-orientation of all security agents on their roles, duties, and Nigerian laws and a need for clear emphasis on respect for rule of law for and on everyone, especially the Poor. There is a need to decriminalise poverty in Nigeria. Mostly the poor suffer in all aspects of Nigeria as it relates to access to resources and they are the ones in detention, and police custody.

There is a need for all erring officers to be punished as well as erring citizens who actually also violated the law in the destruction of public property, and police institutions. The is a need for proper recruitment especially of Police Officers by the Police Service Commission, as it is their mandate backed up by the constitution to ensure inclusion, credibility and transparency with CSOs (NOPRIN) being part of the process to flag up any abnormally as well as offer technical assistance when needed. There is a need to release all peaceful protesters still in security custody and compensation of families of affected citizens and security Officers.

There is a need for the presentation of the recommendation of the panels of inquiry in all states, acceptance by the people and implementation of the recommendation by the states. There is a need to bring to book all terrorist organisations like Boko Haram, Miyeti Allah, and Fulani Herdsmen, check the activities of Hisbah, as well as the conduct of sitting and former executives who are sponsoring the activities of hoodlum and terrorist organisations in maiming the lives of citizens. There is a need to also check the activities of overzealous religious, traditional and opinion leaders who have been consistent in misleading the people, causing crises and building hatred for certain sections of the country.

There should be more emphasis on developing the Country than promoting religion and tribalism, sectionalism, and ethnicism. There is a need for Technology. There is a need for the inclusion of Youths in decision-making, in the involvement of technology. There are a series of solutions that tech can provide especially as to tracking, data on crime, and forensics as this would reduce and address the culture of torture inherent in our security system for fact-finding. The welfare of Security Agents both those in service and retired should be looked into to address the unnecessary wrong ways to support themselves and live better lives.

There is a need for the Police to have their own PenCOM, their own Pension scheme like that of the military as stated in the Police Act 2020. There is a need to implement the ACJA/ACJL, VAPP Act, and Anti-Torture Act. There is a need for a town hall meeting of all stakeholders including the victims of the Lekki Massacre with the Governor, security agents involved and the judicial panel of Inquiry, with the intention of resolving issues resulting from the Lekki attacks. The need for effective implementation of the Nigeria Police Trust fund. The resources should be channelled towards training and refurbishment of police institutions, especially training institutions and stations affected by attacks by hoodlums, not just buying vehicles as has always been the case before now.

There is a need for public accountability of funds accessed and spent. There is a need to reduce the devaluation of officers through unnecessary attachment as aids to so-called VIPs so that they can carry out their primary roles especially as they are grossly inadequate in numbers.

Secondly, the Army should go back to its mandate and allow the police to carry out their policing duties. They should refrain from following the dictates of the executives when its directives are not in line with their duties, for the good of the citizens, or state or selfish in Nature. The military should be moved to North East and West to tackle Boko Haram once and for all, and members arrested should be made to face the wrath of the law. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Department of State Service (DSS) should also keep to their mandate and use the required guidelines in working instead of carrying out raids at night like criminals. All security agents who have erred should be punished to serve as a deterrent to others.

If the above is done community-policing relationship would improve, if not things would only go wrong because most of these attacks on police institutions are a result of bad policing and a culture of impunity, torture, extortion, and extra-judicial killings of citizens, so they use these attacks to retaliate.   The police are a product of the society they come from and if we can be better citizens, we can become better officers.

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