Author: UGRF

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

NEW PETROLEUM PRICE: SWEEPING THE LAST CARCASS OF THE DEAD

These are no times for orgiastic giddiness and opulent celebrations among many Nigerians, neither is it times to say that joy like a river flows in their hearts and their lips filled with words of praises. No, it is not. In however keeping with the biblical injunction that we should be thankful to God in whatever situation we find ourselves, our people have as usual tabled their frustrations before God, the Creator from whom cometh their help. Their hearts are beclouded in multi-layered despondency, anger and disappointment. They are beginning to question their very essence of Nigerianness. The question on their lips is “Is my nationality an albatross”? The feeling is the same across the country. From Kaura Namoda to Aba, Asaba, Kwara, Vandekiya, Kabba, Ebeyi Nvosi and indeed anywhere and everywhere you can think of across the length and breadth of this geographical expression called Nigeria.

We have been cajoled to accept and believe the cliché that the worst form of democratic governance is better than the best of military dictatorship and I ask what is it that the men in khaki do that men in agbada have not done? Is it the flagrant rape on the Rule of Law and relegation to abyss the court processes? Is it the Machiavellian abuse of human rights and rulership by whims and caprices? Is it the hypocritical reminder that citizens should be thankful to God that once merchants of jackboot, horsewhip and barrel of gun are now apostles of democracy and converts of the ‘new order’? Is it the mindless looting of our common patrimony and stashing of the nation’s treasury in the white man’s land?

One would have sufficiently assumed that 21 years after the return of democracy, we should be having a healthy collection of blessings in our basket. Alas, that is not totally the case. We are still mired in luxurious backwardness. The economy shaky. Infrastructure rapidly depleting. Industries closing down. Education nosediving. Democratic ethos grasping for breath under the suffocation of tyranny. Unemployment hitting the rooftop. Naira value on a free fall. There are a thousand and one reasons to believe that all is not well with our dear nation and her people.

Tired and fed up with 16 years of PDP’s unproductivity and obscene mismanagement of resources, majority of Nigerians thought it was time to look elsewhere. Alas, a history was made when an incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan lost his re-election bid in 2015, ushering in a fierce opposition leader, Muhammadu Buhari to power amidst high hopes. Like the proverbial spectator in a football game who gloats in his imaginary ability to release the floodgate of goals when given opportunity, President Muhammadu Buhari took over the saddle of authority in May 29, 2015, gazing at the problems he had pontificated of having the magic wand to solve.

Five years down the line, are our people really happier than they were in the era predating President Buhari’s regime? While this intervention is not targeted at chronicling the myriads of fiasco and routine failure this administration has distinguished itself for since it came on board, suffice to say that the recent petroleum pump price increase to N62/litre is another low in its mission of misery against our dear patriots whose only sin is their nationality

The announcement coated under the veneer of subsidy removal couldn’t have come at a wrong time than this. Our people were left in shock, if not total confusion. Hardly could they believe their ear. Like the Trade Union Congress (TUC) noted in its reaction, the government’s action amounts to killing the dead.

At a period when the fatally depraved Nigerians are reeling under the devastating effects of COVID-19 outbreak, when their means of livelihood are struggling to regain its stamina, when massive layoff and disengagement of workers is the order of the day, when those who are lucky to receive salaries are paid in fractions, when the already saturated labour market has reached its crescendo, when citizens have taken up arms against fellow citizens in desperate effort to eke a living. Interestingly, while ours is on a hot pursuit for policies that will further inflict pain on the already frustrated citizens and drive them inner on the edge of life, elsewhere the government is putting in place mechanisms to help individuals and livelihoods return to normalcy. That in reality is the very essence of government. In US for instance, $310bn funds was voted to the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers loans to small businesses so they can keep employees on the payroll. Aside this, poor families are placed on what we have dubbed conditional cash transfer for one year as an immediate relief to the COVID-19 economic crunch. Among other things, a pause in mortgage payments was introduced to support homeowners pending when the economy stabilises. 

Here, the government struggles to explain how the so called removal of fuel subsidy (it never admitted exists) will be the one-stop solution the country needs to take her out of the current variegated odysseys. Sadly, the burden of our country’s lean pocket is usually passed on the doorstep of the common man but when there is so much to fritter, they are shoved aside while the big men enjoy their fleece. This is a government that pumps billions of Naira in turnaround maintenance on moribund, dead refineries that refine nothing but total waste. This is a government whose anti corruption profile has become a subterfuge of ruse.

Irrespective of how well-intentioned the deregulation of petroleum industry to allow for private sector participation may appear, the burden of trust in the implementation process will continue to rattle the people’s minds. The government has deeply entrenched a perennial sense of distrust and suspicion in the people’s psyche. Many a similar projects in the past decorated to have an outlook of face of the masses ended up as a drain pipe to benefit those already guzzling the nation’s wealth with utmost impunity.

To further compound our melancholy, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on the first day of September surprisingly announced an astronomical increase in electricity tariff earlier put on hold till the first quarter of next year. Again, the government goes about telling those interested in listening that it is committed to tackling hunger and rising food cost when virtually all we do revolves around the availability of petroleum and electricity. Will the farmer who spent his life saving buying petrol and paying for electricity roll out a food bonanza because the government wants prices of food items reduced? What incentives has the farmer received to aid food production? This government must begin to demonstrate that it is in business to alleviate the people’s sufferings and not to compound it the more. The mood of the nation at this time does not require policies that will portray the leadership as not really in touch with the people. Instead of these increment galore, action plans that will help families and businesses have a breath of fresh air is needed now than ever. These include but not limited to injection of funds and tax reliefs

BY ALEX ENEMANNA

UGRFP Member

 

UGRFP PRESS STATEMENT ON THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE AND THE POLICE SERVICE COMMISSION

UGRFP CALLS FOR URGENT URGENT REFORMS, RESOLUTION OF CONFLICT IN FUNCTIONS, FINANCIAL AUTONOMY FOR THE PSC & INCREASED CIVILIAN, CIVIL SOCIETY & PRIVATE SECTOR INVOLVEMENT IN THE REVIEW OF THE POLICING SYSTEM OF NIGERIA

PREAMBLE.

Members of the Public, Panellists and Distinguished Members of the Press, thank you for your time and audience.

INTRODUCTION.

The Nigeria Police Force being the primary law enforcement agency in Nigeria with offices in all 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory is saddled with the statutory responsibility of maintaining law and order in the civil space, and the protection of lives and property. The agency’s role in the foregoing regard has been the subject of multiple public complaints and law-suiits as officers vested with this responsibility and entrusted with weapons of coercion have systematically and maliciously applied same to oppress, harass and intimidate members of the public for pecuniary or prejudicial purposes.

The rising public complaints against the ultra vires, extra-judicial and oppressive tendencies of officers of the NPF who have normalised extortion, false imprisonment & trumped-up charges, and the use of torture or the threat of same to bend the public will to its narrow intents and purposes necessitated the establishment of a review and regulatory body to directly and expeditiously deal with such complaints for the sake of order and sanity in our policing system.

The Police Service Commission (PSC), established as an executive body under section 153 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Police Service Commission (Establishment) Act of 2001, became, on paper, the answer to the people’s prayer for an oversight body independent of the bias of in-house regulation against the unlawful actions of officers of the Nigeria Police Force. The PSC was established with the power to appoint, promote, discipline and dismiss all officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) except the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), and set-up to enhance and groom the relationship between the public and the police to be one of trust and confidence rather than suspicion and indifference.

Regrettably, there have been a lack of synergy between the PSC and the NPF occasioned in part by a lack of political will and conflicting bureaucratic interpretations of the functions of both bodies all of which have defeated the overall objective of making the Nigeria Police Force responsible and responsive as evidenced by the continued complaints of the public against harassment by men of the Force without consequence.

The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP), in line with our mandate to ensure the rule of law and diligence in public service as a panacea for peace and order have drawn the conclusion that the unhealthy rivalry between the PSC and the NPF,  especially as sharpened by the Police Force’s intent to usurp the functions of the PSC, is a significant glitch in the system that can ruin what little policing gains have been made over the years and condemn Nigerians to more years of oppression in the hands of corrupt officers of the Force.

The following missive is a rendition of our observations, contentions and recommendation for reforms in the system to overcome the immediate challenge of making the Nigeria Police principally by fully empowering the Police Service Commission to function without intervention.

  • DISTINCTION IN ROLES & FUNCTIONS

The legal maxim, “Nemo Judex In Causa Sua”, translated as “You Cannot Be A Judge In Your Own Case” underscores a key feature of the rule of law and of bureaucratic propriety in that it makes absolutely more sense for an independent body free from bias and the pressure of familiarity to review the actions of men of the Nigeria Police Force. It is this ideal, no doubt, which gave rise to the establishment of the Police Service Commission, a civilian oversight of the Nigeria Police Force statutorily enabled to promote diligent officers, dismiss erring ones and recruit or appoint fitting members of the public into the Force.

To wit: the PSC is the primary body specifically assigned this responsibility in the Constitution as contained in Paragraph 30, Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which states as follows:

  1. The Commission shall have power to –

(a) appoint persons to offices (other than office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force; and

(b) dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding any office referred to in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph.

Some have erroneously argued that the Nigeria Police Council, NPC, headed by the President has the same powers with the PSC. The constitution however states that:

  1. The functions of the Nigeria Police Council shall include –

(a) the organization and administration of the Nigeria Police Force and all other matters relating thereto (not being matters relating to the use and operational control of the Force or the appointment, disciplinary control and dismissal of members of the Force);

The Constitution was therefore careful to preserve the primary functions of the PSC in terms of especially appointment, promotion, and discipline of the Police as the exclusive preserve of the oversight body. The powers of the PSC, by Nigeria’s laws, is therefore not only supreme, but totally independent.

The recent aberration in the recruitment and appointment of new officers of the Nigeria Police Force overseen by the Inspector-General of Police is therefore anathema to the intent of our laws and undermines the authority of the Police Service Commission. The strategic political placement of the Inspector-General of Police, especially as singularly exempt from the Police Service Commission’s legal authority, has thus been observed to be deployed towards undermining the Commission, and this cannot be allowed to continue. Any or all actions such as the observed moves of the National Assembly to transfer the oversight powers of the PSC to the Office of the Inspector-General of Police is thus misguided and ill-advised, as a body cannot run oversight over itself with any significant measure of success.

  • INDEPENDENCE OF THE POLICE SERVICE COMMISSION

    We’ve made the regrettable observation that the PSC is yet to be afforded the space and enablement to carry out its statutory functions largely in part to its composition and how this defeats the aim of independence needed to make the Commission’s work possible and effective.It has become the tradition for retired Inspector-Generals of the Nigeria Police Force to take over the helm of affairs as Chairmen of the Commission and, while it may be argued that they bring with them a wealth of insight and influence, it cannot be ignored that their loyalty to the Commission and its objectives is undermined by their years as men of the Force who continue to enjoy the patronage and fealty of hierarchies of the Nigeria Police Force, making the enforcement of disciplinary actions against their former colleagues difficult if not impossible.”

Other significant roles can be found for such former IGP’s with intent to continue to serve in the public service sector but not such sensitive roles that manifestly places a question mark on their motives and competence on the basic of loyalty. The Police Service Commission is not a retirement home for such ex-officers, but is in fact a civilian-members driven forum inclusive of private citizens, civil society groups and career public service members unblemished by any link to the Nigeria Police  Force.

A CASE FOR REFORMS

The emerging norm all over the world is the centring of policing systems around the citizens through the protection of their rights, lives and properties. To birth the policing system of our dream, it is pertinent that we have a Police Force that answers for its ill-actions to a citizen-driven supervisory body such as the Police  Service Commission. It has been rightly said that a weak oversight machinery births a dislocated and anti-citizen police especially in a system where the citizenry do not enjoy the licence to carry arms to protect themselves from trigger-happy cops.

 

The following recommendations are therefore hoped to drive a holistic reform in our policy system:

  • The reservation of the chairmanship of the Police Service Commission of Nigeria for former Inspector-Generals of Police is a tradition that must be discontinued as it is defies any logic for independence of the Commission. A retired Inspector-Generals of Police who continues to retirement pay from the Force, who is a product of the system which the PSC is set up to regulate, and who continues to have, hold and enjoy fellowship with former colleagues in the Police Force who may become subjects for disciplinary actions would be hard-pressed and divided in his sworn duty. It is best for the system that such scenarios are avoided in its entirety, and other roles be found for such officers other than the chairmanship of the Commission.
  • In the alternative, a tenured Executive Director may be appointed to chair the Commission from amongst professionals such as retired Justices of any superior court in Nigeria, Senior Advocates of Nigeria, or seasoned professionals in the Human Rights sector within the private or public sector.
  • The National Assembly must as a matter of urgency grant financial concessions to the Police Service Commission to help it improve its accessibility to Nigerians in the most remotest regions. The funding of the Commission must be prioritised to help it meet its mandate
  • Also, the appropriation of the recruitment and appointment role of the Commission by the Nigeria Police Force which expressly goes against the spirit of the law must be discontinued and same given judicial and legislative emphasis. It is not, and should never be, the duty of the Nigeria Police Force to cherry pick its own officers and presume to exercise disciplinary oversight over same. Simply put, the police cannot police itself. This defies all logic for success.
  • The role of civil society groups, members of the public and human rights workers in the live of the Commission must be given emphasis and brought to the fore of its engagement with the public if any success can be hoped to be made with meeting the objectives of the Commission.

CONCLUSION

It is our belief that a proper separation of powers and functions between the Police Service Commission and the Nigeria Police Force is needed for synergy and the effectiveness of both institutions in playing their individual roles in the policing system of Nigeria. Both the PSC and the NPF must see the public and civil society groups as essential to ensuring an effective policing system. Between the two, we may yet hope for peace and order in our civil space if roles are neither reversed, conflicted nor usurped.

Thank you.

Shalom Olaseni

Executive Director,

United Global Resolve for Peace(UGRFP)

Press Statement on the Suspension of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as Ag. Chairman, EFCC, & The Ad-hoc Appointment of Mr. Mohammed Umar as Chairman, EFCC.

The removal of Mr. Ibrahim Magu in his former capacity as Acting Chairman of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission by Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, is one which is commendable as his position had become untenable and repulsive in the face of grave, though unproven, allegations of corruption and mismanagement of recovered public funds. The Office of Chairman, Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC hereonafter) is one which must be high above reproach and any semblance of moral turpitude, therefore making the suspension of Mr. Magu a necessary action to protect the agency’s troubled image and shore up waning public confidence in its statutory mandate.

The alleged underlying factors which led to Mr. Magu’s removal revolved around allegations of personal enrichment, subversion of the course of justice in particular cases prosecuted by the EFCC and insubordination to the oversight authority of the Ministry of Justice. This is strong albeit unproven allegations and lend weight to the argument that a system with weak institutions is a breeding ground for corruption.

In the light of the swift events of the last 72 hours, from the indefinite suspension of Mr. Ibrahim Magu to the directive that Mr. Umar, Head of Operations at the EFCC, assumes office till a substantive Chairman is appointed for the Commission, the United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) would like to emphasize and advance the following advisory & recommendations to the Commission and government to safeguard against occurrences of like nature in the future:

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Too often, Nigeria lets go of the gains in a reformative momentum by being side-tracked by political manipulations and permutations. It would be unsatisfactory if the Ibrahim Magu investigations being spearheaded by a Presidential Panel is abandoned or manipulated into outcomes that seek to provide soft landings for the accused where he is indeed found guilty.This necessitates the urgency for an independent forensic audit of Mr. Ibrahim Magu’s EFCC accounts and a probe into the corruption allegations against him by the Nigeria Police, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission.

The National Assembly may likewise cause an inquiry into the currency of Mr. Ibrahim Magu’s tenure as EFCC Chairman through its Financial Propriety Committee in exercise of its oversight power of review of executive actions.This is to safeguard against an abuse of the entire process, and further ensure that a trial or arraignment, where the investigations so recommend, will be backed by substantial body of evidence. This would indeed send a significant message to intending abusers of their public offices that it is no longer business as usual, and that there are indeed no hiding places in the extant laws and procedural systems of Nigeria.

2. Before Mr. Mohamed Umar, the interim chairman of the Commission, is a difficult task. It is imperative that the circumstances of his appointment nonetheless, that his sense of duty and loyalty to the statutes of the position he now occupies dictates his every decision and actions going forward. As a matter of urgency, Mr. Umar must cause a non-prejudicial investigation into the allegations against his former boss and sustain the momentum against institutional corruption that has broken the pace of progress of Nigeria

3. It is commendable that the Ministry of Justice, through the Attorney General of the Federation & Justice Minister, Mr. Abubakar Malami, Esq, SAN, was an arrowhead in bringing to light the serious corruption infractions of the suspended former chairman of the EFCC. It is only a necessary outcome given the Ministry of Justice has the power of oversight over the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, but one which takes grit and sense of propriety for consequential actions to be taken when obligatory.

It is, however, regrettable that Ibrahim Magu’s alleged infractions against constituted authority and insubordination against  the legal superintendence of the Ministry of Justice was allowed to fester for as long as it did. Going forward, the Ministry of Justice must put in place a mechanism that immediately checks such an occurrence regardless of how connected the guilty party is. The Ministry’s supervisory and advisory role to the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission carries with it the weight of the law and due process, and it is hoped that such a review would check against the abuse of the powers and privileges of office that has become the curse of all former heads of the EFCC.

CONCLUSION

It has been  variedly said that without strong watchdog institutions, impunity becomes the very foundation upon which systems of corruption are built. And if impunity is not demolished, all efforts to bring an end to corruption are in vain. The EFCC, given its breath of fresh air, must take its role in Nigeria’s fight against corruption seriously, devoid of an animation for abuse and illegal contrivances. We do, however, concede that such powers that go largely unchecked have the temerity to be abused by its wielder. This is why it is imperative that a watchdog system is put in place to forestall the continual abuse of power that has been recorded in the office of the EFCC Chairman from Mrs. Farida Waziri, Ibrahim Lamorde to the now suspended Ibrahim Magu.

 

BRIEF MEDIA REACTION ON THE ACTIVITIES OF GUNMEN IN WURMA, KAFI, KATSINA STATE.

A few days ago, in Wurma, Kafi in Katsina state, gunmen took to the streets causing mayhem and wrecking havoc with an ease that lasted over three hours while no security response was in sight. The gunmen regrettably abducted over 43 people- mostly women and children, and went off without a trace.

It has become the modus operandi of armed bandits to kidnap vulnerable and overwhelmed victims of their violence in lieu of paid ransom, and it is truly sad that it has become a thriving franchise with no solution in sight.

The recent maiming and adoption in Wurma, Katsina state is a contributory sad commentary to the worsening security crisis in the country, particularly in the northeastern part of the country where banditry has become a norm. The spate of human live losses, loss of livelihood and properties have become so regular it is a statistical nightmare to the country’s security apparatuses and appears to defy the wisdom and intervention of local, state and federal governments.

Katsina state, home-state of Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, has in recent and distant times borne the brunt of an inept security structure and an increasingly bold violent group that remain elusive while habitually burning down villages, pillaging, raping and killing wantonly with little or no opposition from the police or military. The absence of a resolution in sight has meant that the people must now protect themselves which entails taking the laws into their hands.

 

Perhaps a way forward should begin with identifying the underlying causes of these recurring mayhem. Social insecurity is a direct reflection of a failed economic and educational system. By addressing the economic realities of northeastern Nigeria in tandem with a wide-spread drive for literacy and an advocacy against the ills of banditry much gains can be secured in uprooting not just banditry but insurgency, too.

Of course, in line with the above, all levels of government have a duty to make crimes unattractive and bring the full force of the law to bear on perpetrators of this maladies. By improving the security setup in the north, creating and sustaining viable means of passing and receiving rapid information on attacks even if based on suspicion, the Nigeria police and army would be better positioned to forestall or quell future attacks.

We express and extend the hopes that the police and military would work assiduously with relevant intelligence agencies in the country to search out, apprehend and secure the release of all who have been abducted in this instance and so many others nationwide. All lives, regardless of social status, truly matter.

Shalom Olaseni
Executive Director,
UGRFP.

SOUTH AFRICA’S XENOPHOBIC VIOLENCE AND STATE COMPLICITY– A CALL TO ACTION.

The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP) has followed the xenophobic attacks on foreign Africans, particularly Nigerians, in South Africa with great regrets and repulsion. The recent looting and maiming of foreign African nationals in suburbs in South Africa follows from a tradition of blaming economic ills on others other than South African nationals and follows an insidious call by South African local leaders to their citizenry to protect the country’s sovereignty from other Africans.

As the mobs moved through the areas populated by foreign Africans and the their businesses a few days ago, their xenophobic intentions were clear- attack other African nationals and their businesses.
Xenophobia has come to become a regular and visible feature of South Africa ‘s political landscape. Other African nationals are habitually viewed as outsiders and are attached, killed and have their livelihood destroyed since the dawn of democracy in 1994 in a nationalistic movement that mirrors the Nazis annihilation plans for Jews in Germany who were accused similarly of having hijacked available jobs, positions and offices to the detriment of German nationals.

In South Africa, the blame for these attacks are leveled against the poor and criminals, but what is often left out is the apparent complicity of some officials of the South African state and its agencies. In fact, overwhelming evidence suggests that the South African government, in part, are as much complicit as the locals who go about attacking, raping and killing as we shall soon establish consequently.

The 7 August mob attack followed a stand-off and confrontation between the police and inner-city traders, who government stated were foreign nationals. During the confrontation, traders attacked and forced the police to retreat. The stand-off was followed by remarkable outrage and condemnations by state officials at all levels (Cabinet, Parliament, Gauteng province, police, Johannesburg municipality) as well as political party leaders.


Through all condemnations, the central theme was that the confrontation with law enforcement was an attack on the state’s sovereignty. This implies foreign interference and suggests that the outrage was caused not so much by the action (the confrontation itself) as by the identity of the actors: foreigners. After all, violent attacks on the police and other law enforcement agents are a regular occurrence during police raids and service delivery protests but rarely evoke such levels of outrage.

One can support the rule of law and condemn illegality, without disregarding basic principles of justice, proportionality, and due process. It must be stared that regular attacks of law enforcement in South Africa (whether by citizens of south Africa or foreign African nationals) are an expression of outrage against a policing system that only oppresses and extorts but does not protect.


As in the past, the language of “attack on sovereignty” was followed by explicit or implicit calls on citizens to defend their country. The mob attack on 7th August was a direct result of these calls, and confirms a dangerous emerging trend: xenophobic populism leads to attacks on foreign nationals.

Recent xenophobic attacks demonstrate state complicity in a number of ways. First, state officials’ calls on citizens to defend the country’s sovereignty and democracy is an order to attack foreigners; an order which the citizenry, already harboring pervasive and strong xenophobic sentiments, is unlikely to turn down.


Second, the mob carried out the attacks in the presence and full view of the police ( who represent the state). The lack of decisive police response to prevent or stop the attacks implies the state’s support or passive involvement. Third, these xenophobic attacks have not elicited any official political will and action to stem them beyond officious acknowledgements or condemnations that serve no real purpose. This is a sign of endorsement or at least tolerance by the state.

By continually denying its complicity through the inaction of its policing agents and the utterances of some of its own political leaders, the South African government re-enforces the criminal resolve of South Africans with xenophobic tendencies. Xenophobic attacks are not just everyday crimes, nor is it a spontaneous and irrational outburst. It is a rational action taken after perpetrators have weighed costs and benefits. In the current context, benefits outweigh costs, and so violence against foreign nationals continues.


While there are many factors that interact in many and complex ways to produce an incident of xenophobic violence, this discussion indicates that state complicity is a key element in the violence causal chain. It needs to be addressed for xenophobic violence to be prevented and the rule of law that offers fair and equal protection to all country’s residents to prevail.
Xenophobic violence undermines the rule of law and a state that is complicit in undermining the rule of law is a danger to itself, its legitimacy and the very sovereignty it wants to restore/protect through police raids.


The Nigerian government have a massive role to play in the next few days and weeks following the recent attacks on its citizens resident in South Africa, as do governments of other countries whose citizens are also victims of these attacks. It is a criminal trend that cannot be wished away by hopeful expressions for peace or by official declaration of condemnation not backed by action. The time and momentum calls for a decisive diplomatic action that should cause South Africa’s government to rethink its lax reaction to xenophobic attacks on its soils and under its watch.

Emerging information that indicates that Nigerian nationals who sought refuge in the Nigeria Embassy in South Africa were turned back and offered little solace sends the wrong impression to the marauders and the host government that the Nigerian government care even less about its own nationals and may further perpetuate the xenophobic resolves against Nigerians.

For the records, the xenophobic attacks in South Africa stands consumed and we at the United Global Resolve For Peace would continue to proffer lasting solutions to such actions that undermine African unity and peace.

Shalom Olaseni
Executive Director,
UGRFP.

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