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CSOs condemn creation of extra-legal departments & units by IGP

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Joint CSO Public Statement

By way of introduction, please, permit us to post the following posers: Is there any necessity or justification for the creation of special units like SARS, STS, IRT and IGP Monitoring units by the IGP? Does the IGP even have the powers to do so?

2. Before creating multiples of the so-called specialised units became rampant and widespread, we had and still have the traditional departments and units recognised under the Police Act that carry out intelligence, investigative, monitoring, training, planning, research and statistics as well as other operational duties within the police. The Anti-robbery units at the state and other command levels handle armed robbery cases and other violent crimes. Homicide unit handles murder and manslaughter cases. The X-Squad monitors police conduct, etc.

3. They were doing and can still more effectively do the work that these extra-legal units created to duplicate their duties do. All they need are the funds, equipment, training and motivation of personnel to enhance their professional and operational efficiency and capabilities. Today’s policing is equipment-based, together with the training and motivation that go with it.

4. Rather than equipping these traditional departments and units with the same tools that the so-called specialised (extra-legal) units are exposed to – and their personnel trained for their legally assigned functions – successive IGPs prefer to sideline them and create units that are literally tucked under their armpits to improperly take over, piece-meal, the functions of established departments and units traditionally headed by very senior officers, even at the level of a Deputy Inspector General.

5. To worsen matters, these extra legal units are headed by relatively junior personnel who are made to report directly or indirectly to the IGP, thus creating a total breakdown of the line command of the Force. The untoward result is the complete breakdown of discipline, promotion of patronage, cult personality, mischief, incompetences, loopholes, etc. All this has now constituted an unbearable albatross that has and is still weighing down the Nigeria Police Force today.

6. It has turned out that over the years, Police authorities use the so-called specialised units for special self serving purposes. They use wrongful and brutal methods of “law enforcement” and engage in extortion and outright robbery. Some IGPs have been reported to get returns and shares from the proceeds of the criminal activities of the commanders and operatives of these rogue units.

7. Research by Action Group on Free Civic Space, a coalition of non-state actors on civic space, has revealed that Anambra and Enugu State SARS were supplying cadavers to teaching hospitals in exchange for money. There are also repeated allegations by victims, relatives of victims and survivors of Awkuzu SARS that the operatives may also have been dealing in body parts trading with some (obviously) depraved men of means, with all the trappings of savagery and criminality.

8. This suspicion is strengthened by the fact that in many cases, the dead bodies of victims of extrajudicial killings are never seen by or released to their relatives even when they request for them for decent burial. The operatives flagrantly disobey court orders to produce detained or disappeared persons.

9. The Nigeria Police should disband these suspiciously privileged extra-legal units and allow the Nigeria Police Force return to the legally recognised departments and units, thereby making this quintessential Establishment live up to it’s true bidding as civil Force created by Law. It must stay and remain within its legal precincts for it to be seen as lawfully discharging its responsibilities under constitutional governance, thus, earning the respect and admiration of Nigerians whose lives and property it is primarily created to preserve.

Signed:

Kemi Okenyodo, Executive Director, Partners West Africa – Nigeria

Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Executive Director, Spaces for Change

Z.O. SENBANJO, Esq., Executive Director, Confluence of Rights Nigeria

Okechukwu Nwanguma,
Executive Director, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC)

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