Saturday, 15 March 2014

Extra-Judicial Killings In Nigeria: The Way Out

The high rate of unlawful killings of innocent Nigerians allegedly perpetrated by Nigeria Law enforcement agencies is disheartening and uncalled-for. But could it be attributed to inability of the government to fish out and bring the culprits to book? Or as a result of what analysts believe to be politicizing of outcome of the various investigations which often die in court of law without action?
Recent research shows that cases of gruesome murder of innocent citizens emerge daily in North, south, East and Western part of the country as the media reports of brutalization and wanton killings of motorists at checkpoints either for refusal to pay N20 and above or over a quarrel. Even passersby are sometimes affected as stray bullets a time send them to their untimely grave.
Little wonder in 2012, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. C. Odinkalu, was quoted to have said at a workship that “the Nigerian Police Force executes over 500 detainees summarily every year yet the officers responsible were unpunished”. The Police is yet to publicly dismiss this allegation.
Similarly, while marking the World Human Rights Day in December 2012, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) disclosed that at least six persons were unlawfully slain daily in Nigeria and pointed-out that one out of 56 Nigerians died from gunshot in 2010 and 2011.
The group equally called the Federal Government to set-up a high level judicial commission of inquiry into extra judicial executions and summary killings in the country so as to identify and prosecute those that are responsible and compensate families of the victims. Please, can someone tell us if this has been achieved, and the level of its operation, if possible?
Going by media reports, one will never forget the case of Apo 6 killed in Abuja in 2005; 2012 murder of 4 Uniport students; executions of over 23 persons in Obosi last year and numerous others whose cases are still in the courts and under investigation for years now.
However, the most notable brutalization in recent time perhaps was the which occurred last year, February 25th, as some students of Nassarawa State University were allegedly tear-gassed, beaten-up, maimed and killed by officers of the Nigerian Army while on peaceful demonstration due to lack of water and electricity on their campus.
In the same vein, some students of Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki were reportedly beaten into a comma by law enforcement agents called-up to calm them while protesting against exorbitant increase of their tuition fees last year; Mr. Moukwe whose multi-billion properties were looted last year (himself imprisoned till date without trial) even though the truism of the so-called human head saga allegedly came to the fore early this year; alleged Police murder of one Mr. Chukwuma Ihezie, an Engineering graduate of IMT Enugu. These are only a few examples among the lingering cases of cruelty and gruesome murder in Nigeria.
Perhaps, never to be forgotten in the hearts of Nigerians were about 25 corpses discovered early last year at Ezu River in Amansea, Awka-North Locall Government Area of Anambra state. Autopsy was conducted on them but the result and position of the government has not been made public even though as Anambra state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Lawrence Ikeakor, claimed to have submitted the report to the Federal Government. However, gossip about the autopsy result as circulated in social media alleged that the deceased were murdered extra-judicially. Last year, while this reporter led a team of his colleagues on a follow-up (interrogation) of this case, they were amazed of bountiful revelations and counter-claims, and buried facts of Ezu dumped corpses.
All this creates the need for the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to defend itself over the allegation leveled against them by the leadership of the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) that the slain dumped in Ezu-River were their detained members yet to be tried.
Similarly, to eradicate the ugly trend in our society, all hands must be on deck: the public should provide accurate information to law enforcement agencies when the need arises while the judiciary on the other hand should expedite action on resolving the cases in the court.
Furthermore, reports of the results and investigations conducted and their various recommendations should be acted upon so as to bring the guilty to book to serve as deterrent to others.
Meanwhile, there should be mass training and retraining of our law enforcement agents, increase in their remunerations and other entitlements as and when due as well as merit-based recruitment base into the agencies.

 By Okechukwu Onuegbu



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