… Benjamin Hundeyin and Okoye Henry get special recognition

Juliana Francis

The Executive Director Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Okechukwu Nwanguma, has commended the Nigeria Police Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Olumuyiwa Adejobi and the Police PROs of some State Commands for their responsiveness to complaints of police misconduct in various states in Nigeria.

Nwanguman said that the PPRO, Lagos Command, Benjamin Hundeyin and the PPRO, Imo State Police Command, ASP Okoye Henry stand out in promptly responding to the predatory activities of many police officers under their commands.

He added: “I’m speaking from the perspective of a human rights defender who is in a position to get the attention of these senior officers.

“In the last three weeks alone I’ve been privileged to get the attention of the FPRO to urgently intervene in some cases of unlawful detention of innocent citizens and to get some innocent detainees – who ought not to have been detained in the first place – released promptly upon my bringing such cases to their attention.

“In Ezinihitte Mbaise, a 75-year-old man was arrested and detained following the invasion of his village by a combined team of security operatives from different agencies, including the deadly Ebubeagu. The invaders stormed the community and were led in that illegal operation by no less a person than the traditional ruler of the community who has decided to abuse his power and victimize and oppress his own ‘subjects’.

“My call to the FPRO who in turn directed my request to the Imo State PPRO got the innocent old man released after he was transferred to the State Headquarters from the Area Command Ezinihitte where the traditional ruler uses the compromised Area Commander to intimidate his own people.

“Following investigation at the Headquarters, supervised by the Imo PPRO. It was found that the traditional ruler’s allegation against the old man upon which the Area Commander held him for four days was deliberately false, malicious, and vindictive.”

Nwanguma recalled that three men from a community in Imo State were arrested following a Gestapo-style invasion of their community by operatives of the notorious Anti-Kidnapping Unit at the Tiger Base, Owerri Imo State, and detained for three days over a land dispute.

“I also contacted the FPRO who also referred the matter to the Imo State Police PRO who again intervened to secure their release.  The difference, in this case, is that the rogue operatives at the Tiger Base characteristically insisted on collecting money before releasing the innocent men falsely accused by their influence-peddling kinsman over a land dispute,” said Nwanguma.

He further stated: “ Note that operatives of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit in Owerri Imo State have been implicated in many criminal operations including deadly attacks on homes of opposition politicians in Imo State. They were also involved in electoral violence intimidation and vote rigging during the March and April Presidential and State Assembly elections in Imo State.

“The CP Imo himself was involved in subverting the democratic process by compromising his high professional calling to ensure election security in the Adamawa gubernatorial election which ended up a debacle.

“Then, again today, I also called the PRO Imo State over a complaint of police abuse of power and brutality in the course of arresting someone over a mere traffic offense.  The victim called me and was terrified and afraid for his life because of the levity with which some police operatives in Imo State have been known to treat human life in the state.  My call to the Imo State Police PRO which he promptly responded to and decisively intervened saved the situation. Maybe it would have ended in another tragedy in Imo State.

“It is right to testify when police officers act professionally to protect life just as we criticize them when they act like predators.”

Nwanguma, who said that he was happy that the killers of some policemen in Okpala Imo State a few weeks ago, had been arrested, commended police investigators who arrested the killers, urging the Police to make sure the killers face justice in accordance with the law.

He also said: “I condemn attacks on police officers. When police officers are made to feel targeted and frequently attacked, it makes them prone to violence as they tend to respond to every situation with suspicion, hypersensitivity and a sense of self-defense even when the situation does not call for it. Ultimately, it further endangers public safety.

“It is in the interest of public safety that attacks on police officers must stop.  Efforts must be put in place to restore mutual trust, cooperation and partnership between the police and communities in Imo State.”

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