Month: October 2020

I WILL KILL YOU HERE AND NOTHING WILL HAPPEN

The time was about 4:55pm on the fateful day and the two policemen were already itching to leave the banking environment where they have been assigned to perform guard duty for the week since their usual closing time was 5pm. They are usually picked and dropped off at the FCT command headquarters located in the Garki area of the city at the close of business. Their colleagues from the Police Mobile Force, popularly known as MOPOL are on ground to man the environment all-night since that is the standard in banks. 

It was actually the holy month of Ramadan fast and the police sergeant, a Muslim from my observation was tired and exhausted after a long day work coupled with his fasting mood and couldn’t just wait for a minute past 5pm to go home. Around 4:58, the intercom line at the back gate where I was stationed to monitor the entry and exit of all official vehicles rang, lo and behold an instruction came that on no account must I open the gate for the only vehicle stationed in the compound at that moment, that a marketer is scheduled to meet a client with it. 

Ogar police sergeant, together with his senior colleague, an inspector by ranking are already inside the vehicle, counting by seconds while waiting for the driver. The dilemma of an ‘o yes’ security man! How do I meet an angry and hungry AK47 wielding policeman to tell him to alight from the vehicle where he has been relaxed in the past 10 minutes in readiness to zoom off? How do I flout the instruction of my employer that will eventually put my job on the line? I asked myself. While I was ruminating, another driver assigned to actually convey them to the command, knowing whom they are called to tell me he was very close and that they should be patient while he arrives. I quickly approached the Inspector, “Sir the driver assigned to convey you to the said he is almost here. A marketer is going out with this one, you may please be patient for a while” I whispered. Like petrol in fire, oga sergeant roared, “You are stupid. What do you take us for? Are we your mate?”

 


While the abuses were raining in quick succession, oga sergeant was not only fuming but was huffing and puffing, viciously embittered and vociferously angered as he charged toward me with his AK47 assault rifle. “Open that gate” he commanded hoarsely. While I was still making efforts to appeal, hot slaps started raining all over my face while every other person watched from a safe distance. “Open that gate or you want to disarm me?” he roared again as he cocked his rifle, scratched the barrel of his gun on the ground in apparent readiness to shoot while blood and fire was almost pumping out from his eyes. “I will kill you here and nothing will happen,” he told me. Poor me! What if I run and the bullet goes off on my tiny head? I asked myself. I was jittery. Partially gone and the silent prayer was actually loud as I nursed the pain of the festival of slap. Unto thee do I commit myself oh Lord of mercy. Is this my end? I wondered aloud.               
 
While I may have since got the ugly scenario behind me long ago, the events of recent times in our country where our people have taken to the street to protest the perennial police brutality revived the trauma and renewed an old injury which scar still lingers in my memory. Interesting, millions of Nigerians have at least one gory tale of callous unprofessionalism, near death experience or at best extortion and harassment of police to tell.    

From the popular ‘Apo 6’ to Ikoku 5, murderous policing system in the South East Nigeria, particularly Aba where at least 10 persons were killed by law enforcement officers enforcing COVID-19 lockdown earlier in the year to the killing of citizen Kolade Johnson in Lagos and other atrocious aberrances the police and indeed other security forces have consistently exhibited, the stories are the same. As a young Nigerian, each time I read the obituary of a patriot murdered in cold blood on the account police overzealousness, I always whisper to myself, ‘this could be you.’. You know what? They are right as most often, nothing really happens. They walk away with blue murder. Over time, the people’s confidence in the government has been fatally fractured and trust brazenly eroded. The prolonged procession against police brutality across the country advertises nothing but the peak of the frustration of our youth populace who mostly are at the receiving end professional infractions of those engaged and paid to guarantee our security.

 

We live in a country where people are not reprimanded for their offences irrespective of how heinous and the youths are saying no to it. We live in a country where those in political positions do not owe a sense of accountability to the people and the youths are saying no to it. We live in a country where a killing gang called SARS is renamed SWAT and the youths are saying no to it. We live in a society where ‘we will’ do not translate to ‘we have’ for decades. We live in a society where criminals reign supreme while innocent citizens are being hounded about and the youths are saying no to it.

 

Metaphorically, the #EndSARS protest speaks to legion of other hydra headed and cancerous national issues, particularly visionless governance, corruption, favouritism, ethnic and religious correctness, looting and betrayal of public trust. For those who do not know, what we are seeing today is a byproduct of accumulated anger and consequences of chains of broken dreams precipitate by dysfunctionality of the state. It is an open secret that it is tantamount to the proverbial camel passing through the eye of the needle than for you as son of nobody to secure a job in any of the ‘juicy’ agencies even with your overwhelming merit without resorting to bribery and inducement. Jobs in MDAs are hawked in the open the way gala and biscuits are hawked in the streets. T

 

They are exclusively reserved for the sons and daughters of ‘the connected’, the rich and affluent while the sons and daughters of the plebian are free to wait for N-POWER programme or political thuggery. The social inequality and imbalances have hit the rooftop, making our young population permanently on the scavenge for any possible route to exit the country to just anywhere else. They don’t see any future in the country they call theirs. The same old failed leaders have continued to recycle themselves and cronies to preside over our affairs fruitlessly while the youths have been reduced to mere alleluia singers. It is only those who have bountifully harvested from the scandalously skewed system and corrupt system that kick against the voice of reasoning which our patriots in the street represent

 

A Nigeria that works for all is one where I am first seen as a Nigerian before the narrow prism of my religious and ethnic affiliations. A Nigeria that works for all is one where I do not need to see or know anyone in government offices before bidding for contract or employment. A Nigeria that works for all is one where justice is served to both victims and perpetrators of police impunity irrespective of their ethnicity and network of connection in high places. A Nigeria that works for all is one where I can go to market with my meagre income and come home with value and not the one where as a minimum wage earner, I will have to join three months salaries to buy a bag of rice for my family. A Nigeria that works for all is one where the President will not turn a deaf ear to the yearnings of his people and refuse to act in a manner that ministers to their demands. A Nigeria that works for all is one where protesters exercising their constitutional rights are not at the mercy of hired hoodlums and trigger-happy security agents.

 

Lastly, I deeply and sympathetically mourn our dear compatriots who were at any point felled by the bullets of errant and wayward security agents across our country. Your deaths are not in vain as we are committed to a rebranded Nigeria as the least way to honour you. The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain. Time for a reformed police and policing system is now.    

 

Enemanna
Journalist

United Global Resolve for Peace

UGRFP PRESS RELEASE ON LEKKI KILLINGS, LOOTINGS & CIVIL UNREST.


The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) wishes to condemn in the strongest possible terms the unravelling killings, maiming and looting in major cities in Nigeria that have been the denouement of what started out as a peaceful protests against police brutality and a request for respect of human rights.

As a group, we are overwhelmed by our concerns for the breakdown in law and order nationwide, the seeming aloofness and unresponsiveness of security forces and the activities of hoodlums who have capitalised on the civic unrest to loot, desecrate and burn private and public properties.

We acknowledge that the reported killings at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos two nights ago escalated what was already a tensed polity and hereby call for an investigation into the causality, culprits and casualty from that night.

We wish to reiterate our conviction that the right to peaceful protests is subsumed under the constitutional right to movement, assembly and association. Closely knit to these rights is the right to the dignity of the human person which is emphasised in several human rights charter that is legally binding on Nigeria as a signatory.

 

In light of the foregoing, we strongly condemn the use of disproportionate force by the authorities on peaceful protesters some of which are irrefutably captured in digital proof. In respecting people’s right to peaceful protest, the government have a duty beyond listening to their complaints to equally keeping protesters safe in the exercise of their right. This protection must necessarily shield protesters from the harmful impediment of hoodlums and thugs as were seen in Abuja, Lagos, Edo and Osun state where concerned attacks on protesters were left unchallenged by security agencies leading to the loss of lives and properties. Inaction on the part of government to check such thuggish intrusions only further deepen the protesters’ distrust for government and lends credibility to the suspicion that such thugs are pro-government sympathisers acting out the latter’s script.

The intent of government versus public interactions must always be the building of trust and not the deepening of distrust. The government of Nigeria have a responsibility to the public to restore faith in its processes through a more sincere and thorough approach to meeting the demands of the peaceful #EndSARS protesters.

While it is commendable that the Nigerian government made the decision to disband the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) whose notoriety and alleged violations of peoples rights, rape, extortion and outright murder led to calls for its dissolution, government’s failure to undertake other demands such as the immediate identification of killer cops for prosecution and compensation payment made to verifiable victims of fatal police brutality further deepened the people’s distrust for what many considered “half-measures” by the federal government.

UGRFP wishes to further note that despite best intentions, the setting up of a new tactical unit christened SWAT was a tad hasty as more efforts should have been channelled into addressing the root causes of police violence, while putting in place sufficient safeguards to prevent further abuse. This could have taken the form of dismissing cops with severe disciplinary issues, setting up an internal inquiry to identify others within the system for prosecution, massive training and psycho-social evaluations for the police all conducted transparently and thoroughly. Such a focus would have driven public trust and earned the police sufficient time to put its affairs in order so as to help it meet the other demands of the peaceful protesters.

We are, however, not unaware that the protests were hijacked subsequently by thugs and hoodlums. In one instance, protesters came under heavy attack by thugs and in another, hoodlums wrecked havoc on properties and livelihood. These actions stand condemned, and the authorities must respond professionally to restore peace and order across the country. All and any security response must necessarily be conducted according to the rules of engagement and eschew any further form of heavy-handedness and the excessive use of force. History has repeatedly proven that the resort to force to quell civil unrest is as unproductive as it is counter-productive. Further angst and aggression would simply be built, and the ensuing incendiary reactions would cost more lives and properties as exemplified by the current crisis in Nigeria.

 

The idealistic resonance behind the protests against police brutality must also be stated for what it is: the civilian public fully intend for the police to be answerable in words and actions to them. This need already has a statutory provision in the form of the Police Service Commission (PSC)- a civilian body with oversight functions over the police. Regrettably, the PSC have not been able to function fully and efficiently, and part of the resolution to birth a new and better policing system must accommodate the legal, structural and capacity strengthening of the PSC as a key player in that regard.

 

In the same vein, the Police Service Commission must be commended for reportedly dismissing thirty-seven (37) officers with overhanging disciplinary issues while currently investigating several others, all of this in spite of its current operational constraints. By strengthening the Police Service Commission, Nigeria would indeed be positioning itself for much needed gains in its policing system.

The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) wishes to appeal for calm from the public, particularly the understandably enraged young population who have suffered casualties in their numbers while demanding for a right to live free from police brutality. The grievances of the youths of Nigeria which includes, but is not restricted to, police brutality, while justified, must also continue to be demanded peaceably and with regards to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria.

It is our hope that the political leadership of the country from the executive to the legislative would commence a healing and reconciliatory process in the coming days, with concerted efforts made to address the demands of the protests and justice for the slain.

The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) remains committed to a Nigeria united in its diversity and differences, and unyielding in its aspirations for a better future while committed to the pursuit of peace in all its national endeavours. It is our hope that the events of the last few weeks would be taken advantage of to chart a new path to a truly democratic Nigeria where rights are sacrosanct and all men are equal under the law.

Thank you.


For: The United Global Resolve for Peace

Shalom Olaseni
Executive Director

#ENDSARS Campaign: Soundbites, Queries and Resolutions for a Proper Policing System.

The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) as an organization dedicated to the pursuit of peace, order and conflict resolution in societies around the world welcomes the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) arising from the public consensus driven by the youths of Nigeria against said unit on claims of its notoriety for extortion, abduction and outright murder. We fully support all calls for policing reforms leading to an end to police brutality through torture and intimidation, and also the violation of the human rights of the citizens of Nigeria especially its young and thriving populace. We condemn all acts of extra-judicial killings, unlawful profiling, illegal raids and the frequent victimisation of hard-working Nigerian youths by some errant members of the Nigeria Police Force.

As a peace and conflict resolution oriented organisation, we have always supported peaceful means to cause change or challenge a predatory status quo, and will continually lend our voice, wits and advice to the public and constituted authority on conflict mediation, reconciliation and resolution. Whilst we respect the need for vibrant policing, we have always stood against predatory policing and the practice of ‘qualified immunity’ which shields bad cops from prosecution for extra-judicial actions. We’ve relentlessly advocated against the entrenchment of negative stereotypes against the young population of Nigeria as we see youths as critical agents of peace and partners in the maintenance of order in any given society

We believe that peaceful protest is a form of advocacy and its exercise falls within the constitutionally guaranteed rights of every Nigerian citizen to the dignity of life, liberty of assembly, and freedom of association and movement. We therefore condemn the killing of one Mssr. Jimoh Isiaq and ten others in Ogbomosho, Lagos and Abuja as a threat to constitutional rights, a reproach on policing propriety and an indictment on failure to protect the lives of the people. The excessiveness of force and other unprofessional conducts of some officers of the Nigeria Police Force not only contravenes municipal laws but violates several international conventions and treatises, including the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2250, 2419, and 2535 which, read severally and as a whole, demand the protection of young men and women by all UN member states.

Having acknowledged the acquiescence of the Inspector-General of Police of Nigeria to the public demand to disband SARS, we insist that a lot more could and should be done to win over public goodwill and trust for the police, and measures put in place to end with a finality all enabling system of police brutality and misconduct. We therefore call on the Nigerian Government including the Executive, the Legislature, the judiciary as well as all relevant stakeholders, to urgently consider the following observations and recommendations for action:

OBSERVATION(s)
In the course of our mandate and preceding the public demand for the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as a symbolic lamentation against police brutality, the United Global Resolve for Peace had course to intervene by advocacy in a matter between two state institutions namely the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
Our finding(s) were that the Police Service Commission (PSC), set up by statutory mandate to recruit, promote and sanction officers of the Police Force with the exception of the Inspector-General of Police had become redundant and effete whilst under-performing its critical role as an oversight body over the Nigeria Police Force. We observed that most past, and the present chairman, of the PSC were drawn from the ranks of the Police Force, specifically, retired Inspector-Generals of Police had become the go-to personnel for chairmanship of the PSC therefore creating a structural problem in partisan oversight functions within the Commission.

 

We further observed that budgetary and financial constraints starved the PSC of requisite infrastructural materials and the human capacity to carry out its disciplinary mandate against the NPF. Other notable challenges surfaced in the duplicity or usurpation of functions that saw the Nigeria Police Force undertake the Commission’s power to recruit and sanction erring Police Officers done, all without relevant legal instruments. This particular conflict in power and function became the subject matter of a lawsuit, PSC v. the NPF which was recently decided in favour of the Commission at the Court of Appeal.

RECOMMENDATION(s)

We therefore recommend as follows in view of the observations and other ancillary matters discussed above, THAT:

  • Public trust has been eroded in the Nigeria Police Force, and the priority of the NPF must be the restoration of same through transparent policing, psycho-social training, thorough screening and vetting of police officers and the identification and prosecution of all cops fingered in disciplinary complaints from the public.

 

  • Immediate action must be taken to curtail unlawful stop and search patrols, illegal raids and other extra-judicial matters incidental thereto.On the Police Service Commission, being the oversight body by constitutional law and an enactment of the National Assembly over the Nigeria Police Force, that the Commission must receive the full backing of government to function optimally and independently.

 

  • The convention of appointing retired Inspector-Generals of Police to oversee the PSC as its Chairman raises more problems than it solves any. This tradition must be discontinued as the Commission must be run independently of personnel with police service history to avoid bias and prejudice in the discharge of the function of the Commission.

 

  • UGRFP recommends that retired jurists, justices, judges or avowed security and human rights experts should henceforth serve as Chairmen of the Police Service Commission to forestall any conflict of loyalty and function or any resemblance of same, within the Police Service Commission. The PSC Act is clear that only neutral persons can and should serve as chairman of the Commission, a provision that is starkly negated by the appointment of a former policeman to oversee a Commission saddled with the discipline of policemen- retired or serving.

 

  • The Police Service Commission must enjoy adequate staffing and budgetary provisions to better serve the public. As such, its budgets and finances must be independent in input and reflect the need to situate the Commission strategically across the 36 states of the Federation for ease of reach and access.

 

  • The PSC Act is ripe for legislative intervention and must be amended to reflect current exigencies on the practicality of its functions and purpose, and also with a view to strengthen the Commission to function better.

 

  • There is an urgent need to mainstream youths and civil society organisations into the Nigeria policing system through a strategic stakeholders forum to protect against the public, especially the youths, become scapegoats of future security arrangements.

CONCLUSION
It is pertinent to note that self-regulation, in this context the regulation of the police by the police, is a form of corruption, an anomaly and an institutional aberration. The rights abuses of member of the public by bad cops would not stop in of itself with the disbandment of SARS, the creation of a new unit or even with a change in hierarchy of the Nigeria Police Force.

Until the Nigeria Police Force become answerable to the oversight function of the Police Service Commission all or most gains in the momentum of the #ENDSARS protest would be lost in due course thus setting the country back again in its policing methods and habits. This is why consolidation in the power and functionality of the Police Service Commission must be undertaken and established.

The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) will continue to lend itself to all processes for the reformation of the entire police system in Nigeria, and must once again commend young Nigerians who took it upon themselves to peacefully draw attention to matters long in the tunnel of advocacy in the civil society space. We have much faith in our young population as agents of peace and stability, and our believe in their rights and freedom within a nation in order remain a mission statement of the United Global Resolve for Peace.

Thank you.

Signed:
Shalom Olaseni
Executive Director,UGRFP

A UGRFP PRELIMINARY RELEASE ON : #ENDSARS and #POLICEREFORM

 

Across the length and breadth of Nigeria, young Nigerians are leading protests demanding for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) whilst calling for an overhauling reform of the Nigeria Police Force. The public protest have drawn solidarity and rallying calls from all over the world with the professionalism of the Nigeria Police Force called into question with focus on the disciplinary issues that have crippled the agency.

The United Global Resolve For Peace (UGRFP) wishes to commend the protesters for conducting themselves peacefully and with resilience on their calls for policing reforms. UGRFP also wishes to advise that theprotestors continue to conduct themselves with order and peaceably as violence must never be an option in the exercise of their rights to association and assembly.

The swelling calls for policing reforms especially with regards to disciplinary challenges within the rank and file of the Nigeria Police Force has timed itself on the heels of efforts by the United Global Resolve For Peace (UGRFP) working with the Police Service Commission (PSC- hereinafter referred to as “the Commission”) to address the underlying challenges with the Commission that has crippled its statutory mandate.


The Police Service Commission was set-up as a civilian body to review, discipline and sanction errant officers while operating a reward system for good cops in a bid to engender a culture of professionalism and integrity on the job. Regrettably, the political will to make the Commission function at its barest minimum has been lacking thus setting it up for systematic ruin. The consequence of said ruin has crystallised into the boldness of errant officers whose unlawful actions go without reproach or sanction. The systemic rot the public now see and complain of is directly linked with the non-efficacy of the Commission brought on by hierarchical issues that have divided loyalty to the Commission with the Police Force.

Having identified areas for advocacy and reform, UGRFP undertook several weeks of consensus meetings and stakeholders discussions with the hierarchy of the Commission and the Nigeria Police Force aimed at finding resolutions to the enduring challenge of effective policing and disciplinary measures against errant officers.

For the purpose of records, details of our seminars, workshops and advocacy for police reforms with particular reference to joining efforts with the Police Service Commission to install it as the go-to body for all issues of disciplinary claims against officers of the Nigeria Police Force will be communicated in a broad release subsequently. However, suffice to reiterate our conviction as a group that only by fully empowering the Police Service Commission to function fully and independently within the ambit of its statutory powers will the challenges of policing in Nigeria take on a positive lift and turn. This is, of course, a conclusion arrived at in context of prevailing enabling laws in Nigeria.

We want to restate our readiness to join all genuine efforts to position the country’s policing system within the bracket of acceptable global standards. This can be achieved via communication and consultation, embarked on with civility and guided by the right objectives and intentions.

Thank you.

Shalom Olaseni
Executive Director,UGRFP

UGRFP Editorial, October 1, 2020. NIGERIA AT 60: Gains, Challenges & Fears.

As Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and home to one of the world’s most diverse cultures, tribes and religions, today marks its 60th year of self-rule after gaining independence from British rule following series of dialogues led by its notable nationalists such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Tafewa Balewa, we at the United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) must extend our felicitation and salutation, whilst expressing our admiration for the Volksgeist clamour that has seen the country and its people through very trying times.


Whilst it is now unpopular to speak of gains made by Nigeria, post independence, given certain prevailing challenges, it bears needful remembrance that 21 years of uninterrupted civilian rule decided by a transition from one government to another through the exercise of democratic franchise is indicative of a spirited plough through the terrain of nation building to find sure footing.

Three years into its Independence, Nigeria’s fragile unity was threatened by and nearly uprooted by military violence through a coup that in turn fed a sectarian suspicion that led to three bloody years of civil war. The declaration of “No Victor, No Vanquished”, though noble, has done little to vanish the mutual suspicion of assured subjugation amongst the three major tribes in Nigeria and other minority groups bound in solidarity and that, perhaps, presents one of Nigeria’s most difficult obstacle to the realisation of true peace and togetherness.

Over the years, Nigeria has struggled with balancing interests across ethnic and religious groups, making gains in some years only to lose same in others. It is hoped that today’s Independence Day Remembrance would offer a moment of sober reflection and a searching of the soul of this country for the better.

The risen cost of living against the backdrop of a fallen standard of living, insecurity- physical and economic, sectarian violence and calls for the dissolution of Nigeria have become the steadfast lamentation of its citizenry, and must thus impress on the leaders of this nation the truth that a lot more has gone wrong than right, and further that this necessitates a change in its policy direction and general governance.

UGRFP, recognising that the anxiety and unrest that permeates Nigeria at the moment may be manipulated by certain groups and people for parochial gains, hereby encourage all Nigerians to more peacefully register their agitations and dissatisfaction with government. We do not hesitate to state that only a peaceful referendum is welcomed in our much evolved world, and therefore encourage all misgivings, apprehensions and demands to be channelled with civility and in respect of state laws that seek to keep the peace and order.

While we do admit that it is not yet ‘Uhuru’ for Nigeria and Nigerians, we must be reminded of the evil of aggressive revolution as the Civil War so evidences. Genuine efforts must be made to create change in a peaceful atmosphere with unhindered respects to free speech, movement and association.

We at the United Global Resolve For Peace (UGRFP) remain optimistic that the great potential of this nation will be achieved through concerted political will and the belief of the citizenry. We will continue to serve advisory roles to the nation and its people, while pursuing and encouraging peaceful means for the emancipation of the Nigerian people from all forms of hardship.

We wish the people of Nigeria & Nigeria a Happy Independence Day, and more prosperous years ahead.


Thank you.

Shalom Olaseni

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