Police and the Burden of Extrajudicial Killings

By Emmanuel Uffot

Despite  the uproar that greeted the killing of 36 year Kolade Johnson by a trigger happy dismissed police Inspector Olalekan attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS at a viewing centre in Lagos early this month, and the subsequent remedial measures taken the Lagos State Police Commissioner Zubairu Muazu, the police are back to the ‘vomit’ again just after two weeks of the killings of Kolade.

Last Saturday April 13, Inspector Dania Ojo leading a six man police team shot to death Ada Ifeanyi and injured her boy friend Emmanuel Akomafuwa. The 20 year old girl and her partner were shot by the police officer in Apapa area of Lagos while returning from a night club.

Inspector Ojo who is believed to have pulled the trigger is said to be at large, the State Command Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Bala Elkanah has announced the arrest of five police officers involved in the ugly incident. Those arrested and said to be undergoing interrogation are Inspector Adamu Usman, Sergeant Adeyeye Adeoye, Sergeant Kashim Tijani, Sergeant Lucky Akigbe and Sergeant Paul Adeoye.

 Although PPRO has as usual said the affected officers are already facing internal disciplinary actions and if found guilty will be prosecuted in a conventional court like Olalekan the killer of Johnson.

In his statement released after the incident Elkanah conveyed the directive of the Commissioner of Police CP Muazu thus “ The Commissioner of Police Lagos State Zubairu Muazu has ordered the immediate and detention of Police officers suspected to be involved in the shooting of Ada Ifeanyi, 20 of No 4B, Amusa Lane, Off Ojo Road Ajegunle and Emmanuel Akomafuwa 32, Of No 52, Babatunde Stret, Olodi Apapa at Akpiri Stree, Olodi Apapa”.

The incident according to him happened on Saturday April 13, 2019 at about 7am while the officers are attached to the Trinity Police Station. He disclosed Inspector Dania Ojo who escaped immediately after the incident has been declared wanted the police.

 Elkanah said the Lagos Police Command condemned in strong terms the senseless killings of unarmed civilians by those he referred to a few “ Bad Eggs” in the Command who he stressed are bent on tarnishing the image reputation of the nation’s Police Force.

 He said the Command will not relent in taking measures to rid the Force of these criminal elements. The Lagos State Police Command PPRO has disclosed that within the last one month, the Lagos State Police Command has dismissed four policemen for abuse of power and awarded various degrees of punishments to 41 others.

Zubairu Mua’zu, Commissioner of police Lagos

Our collective resolve in building a more humane, professional, dedicated, courageous and people –oriented Police Force is a task that must be done and together, we can make it a reality”, Elkanah stated.

But the efforts taken so far by the Police especially since Muazu came in to curb the prevailing incessant killings of civilians by Police personnel has done little to allay the outcry and anger of the public over the numerous extra judicial killings by policemen.

A recalled  cases this year alone put known cases of extrajudicial killings by policemen at six including the latest in Apapa, Lagos.

Some of the other prominent incidents include the killing of an official of LASTMA in Iyana  Ipaja area of Lagos by another trigger happy officer of Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad, FSARS and the beating to death a personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp  in Abuja in the presence of his wife and children, both for allegedly contravening traffic rules.

Indeed the abuse of power and brutalization of civilians by members of SARS has elicited several calls by Nigerians for a reformation in the entire Nigeria Police Force especially the tactical units like the SARS, Anti-cult Units, Anti-Kidnapping Units and Police Mobile Force.

It could be recalled that after the killing of Johnson early this month, the Lagos State Police Command CP Muazu is said to have instituted some measures to check activities of men of SARS and other tactical units in particular and the regular force in general.

Part of the measures as earlier explained by the PPRO to The ValueNews   included the withdrawal of SARS personnel to base. Under the new order, SARS personnel are not to be seen patrolling the streets in Hilux vans and commercial buses as has always been the case, they are only to be redeployed when there is distress call on a matter the regular policemen cannot handle.

Furthermore, men of SARS were to undergo screening and those found fit are to be retain and make to undergo fresh training on weapon handling and rules of engagement. Similarly, those found to be unfit according to the PPRO were to be sent back to the regular police .  Again under  the new order, Force rules and guidelines are to be pasted in all police Commands, Stations and post across the state for police to read especially in the area of weapon handling and rules of engagement.

In the light of the latest killings by the police last week , the Acting Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu, who was in Lagos on Monday April 15 to meet the Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode of the killings of civilians in the State by police, has read the riot act to all Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers that they would henceforth be hold responsible for any such act committed by police officers under their commands.

The Acting IGP in line with the suggestion of Nigerians is also contemplating the procurement of stung guns for use by police to replace bullets incase civil matters.

It could also be recalled that late last year, the Vice President Professor Yemi Osibanjo had ordered that members of FSARS who are largely accused of police brutality be subjected to the command of State Command to check their excesses .However The ValueNews findings revealed that despite the measures taken by Muazu to ground SARS to base, they are still seen patrolling the roads with their black jackets in commercial buses displaying their AK-47  rifles.

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