NEWS

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.

INTERNET FRAUD HAS NO TRIBE.

 

With the release of over 80 Nigerian names by the FBI for internet fraud, with 78 being of the Igbo extraction, social media is awash with comments that seek to isolate the Igbos as the enhancers of international shame and opprobrium to Nigeria.
But crime has no tribe.
Within the country, the Yorubas & Benins have long been held out as the most probable culprits in instances of ‘419′ or Yahoo Yahoo, which explains in part why this new list has taken the Igbos to task.

Internet fraud, which is the use of the internet to deceive and defraud victims to part with money, has long been a negative index with a far reaching implication for Nigeria and Nigerians.

More countries are reluctant to grant travel visas to Nigerians, while those already out of the country deal with constant mistrust and negative labeling. Fewer business are doing business with Nigerian companies from fear of being scammed.

The crackdown of the Nigeria Police Force and the EFCC on cybercrimes is stunted by compromised officers/agents and a constantly evolving internet fraud complexity with these agencies behind in apprehension methods.

The debilitating social conditions and poor money culture means more youths continue to embrace internet fraud as a shortcut from poverty to wealth, believing in being able to keep their ill-gotten wealth by oiling the right fingers.

While it may seem trendy, it is indeed impolitic to hold the Igbos to sole account over an issue for which the world holds Nigeria responsible as a unit. Being a non-Igbo will not exempt a genuine Nigerian businessman from losing a deal over fears of a scam, being denied a visa, being racially and physically attacked or wielding an international passport with diminished potency all over the world.

Rather than play the tribal card, Nigerians and Nigeria would do well to recognize this as a national plight that demands concerted efforts in combatting. The Nigerian government must make cybercrime unattractive through the imposition of severe sanctions and the improvements of methods of apprehending fraudsters.

Also, by improving the economic situation of the country and engendering new social norms that frown at the celebration of ill-gotten wealth, while ridding the national consciousness of its money-culture with no consideration of the means to wealth, gains can be made in the fight against internet fraud and hopefully, redemption will be availed the Nigerian image before the international public.


Shalom Olaseni
Executive Director

EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLINGS & OTHER ULTRA VIRES ILLS OF THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE

Over the years, the phrase ‘trigger-happy cops’ have been used severally as an euphemism for the many deaths of innocent bystanders and apprehended criminals in the hands of men of the Nigeria Police. The coinage points to an anomie that has taken on the conventions of a norm- condoned and covered up along the hierarchy of the Nigeria Police Force.

A recent video in circulation highlights what has come to be accepted as the modus operandi of the Nigeria Police Force and provides the template to examine this prevalent ill and a possible way forward. 

In the new video, men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) are seen toting cocked guns at a band of two robbers who had been tied up and restrained with what looks like ropes.

One of the officers is heard barking to both men to step off the vehicle they had been bundled into before proceeding to shoot both men at point bank- unarmed and posing no threats to the officers or passersby. It is instructive to point out that it is yet unknown who made the recording and how it subsequently made its way to the public, but the video-maker is heard in the background gleefully encouraging the shooting of both disarmed men and saying, “ We no dey waste time”.

That last statement rendered in vernacular is apt in that it captures the general impatience of police officers who solve all debacles with pedestrians and commuters through the barrel of the gun. Kolade Johnson, a young and enterprising man, was hit by a stray bullet while minding his business only because a group of SARS operative who had gone to effect the arrest of a suspected internet fraudster decided that shooting at a fleeing suspect within a congested area was operationally sound.

Regulars commuters and drivers on interstate roads are left with little choice than bribe their way to freedom and safety when engaged by corrupt officers mounting roadblocks. Many lives have been wasted over as little as a disagreement over N50 to N500 by policemen who felt slighted by the inducement given, or a refusal to ‘play ball’. Many are threatened that they would be shot and wasted and nothing would come off it, a miserable truth which only encourages more and more innocent deaths.

But not all who have been summarily executed were innocent people as some have argued. In the first narration above, the two men who were killed were in fact men of the underworld who were tracked down and apprehended. It does beg the question, however, if our policemen are now judge, jury and executioners?

The operational manual of the Nigeria Police and the Police Act directs that the ultimate point of any arrest is to restrain and detain, not restrain and execute. The police have no arbitrary right to choose who lives or dies. If they did, our courts would be needless and the judiciary pointless. In combat situations, however, with policemen taking on fire, brute force is permissible in subduing the threat and gaining control. The video in reference clearly shows that the two men posed no danger to the police officers and had in fact been tied up and bundled into a bus before being executed in public glare with pomp and excitement.

A few weeks back, the Nigeria Police were themselves, victims of a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ situation when three of its men were gunned to death by military men who mistook them for kidnappers. The Police, usually the perpetrators, took to their official pages to try to hold the Nigerian Army to account before the same Nigerian public that are a regular victim of police, AND military, brutality. It’s a dog-eat-dog plight, sad yet instructive.

Going forward, the Police Force must truly undertake measures to prevent as much as sanction officers who kill without justification. That men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) are regular culprits is indicative of a lack of professionalism breeding within that rank and festering from inept oversight. There must be a total overhaul of the mentality of the average Nigerian Policeman through consistent reformatory training and accountability measures that respect neither rank nor file.

Only by refusing to condone and protect errant officers, and the application of severe sanctions for established cases of extra-judicial killings, bribery, commuter terrorism and abuse of official privileges, can the Nigeria Police Force attain an appreciable level of professionalism and acceptance with the public. As the unfortunate incidence involving its men and soldiers show, violence is not prejudicial to status and must hence be actively discouraged through positive actions

Shalom Olaseni
Executive Director, UNITED GLOBAL RESOLVE FOR PEACE(UGRFP)

PRESS RELEASE ON THE AMBUSH AND DEATH OF THREE SPECIAL DUTY POLICEMEN & A CIVILIAN IN THE HANDS OF MEN OF THE NIGERIA ARMY.

Tragic news filled the Nigeria space when on the 7th of August, 2019 three men of the Nigeria Police Force and a civilian where killed along the Ibi-Jalingo Road by soldiers whose agency have come out to describe the sad incidence as one of mistaken identity and the failure of the officers to properly identify themselves.  

With the Nigeria Police Force tweeting away counter claims to the army’s stating that its men did properly identify themselves, one thing becomes abundantly clear- the lack of operational synergy and exchange of information amongst Nigeria’s security forces, and even more, the underlying bubble of mutual distrust and resentment that may be the wrench in the works of inter-agency cooperation.

The three police officers who died have now been identified as a crack unit under the Inspector-General of Police ‘s Intelligence Response Team ( IRT) – a well-trained unit with an impressive record of apprehending elusive bandits, kidnappers and other militants against the Nigeria state. On this particular day, they were reported to have successfully arrested one Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, identified as a notorious king-pin and kidnap enabler, and were transporting same back to Abuja when they met their gruesome fate.

A curious twist to the whole sordid affair is the failure of the Nigeria Army to produce the suspect who somehow survived the shoot-out. Alhaji Wadume remains untraceable yet wanted and it isbtrult an indictment on the Army that its men, even if unknowingly, secured the release of a suspect of kidnapping and have failed to have him returned to the Police for prosecution now that the facts have been laid out and their mistake called out.

It is truly troubling to note that the Nigeria state have normalized the intervention of soldiers in matters which are legally strictly within the purview of the Nigeria Police Force and sister-agencies saddled with the country’s internal security. Let’s note that the soldiers who took out the police unit where not on a routine patrol but were called by an unidentified individual, following which they gave hot pursuit and engaged the Police Unit in a gun battle that went awry for the latter.

The Nigeria Army ought to be an agency whose strict duty are restricted to protecting Nigeria ‘s territorial integrity and not deployed or called into civil matters. That such a convention is allowed and operated in Nigeria is symptomatic of a malady and as we now see can only lead to costly conflict and confrontations.

We would like to call on the nation’s Chief Security Officer, President Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure that a neutral investigative panel is set up to unearth and ascertain the entire truth of what transpired between the now deceased officers, the soldiers and the now missing Alhaji Wadume. Only the truth can ease and pave way for true reconciliation between the Nigeria Police and Army. It is imperative that the public are put in the know of the findings of this special committee as it would serve as a reference point in the future.

Nigeria must count its losses in the form of this special duty cops whose lives were cut short while in active duty on behalf of the government. Their death, while needless and regretful, affords the Nigeria Police an opportunity to be reflective in putting its own house in order. There have been several deaths of innocent members of the public in the hands of men of the Nigeria Police Force over mistaken identity. With the police itself now caught in the there, it is hoped that it will actively reposition itself to do better in curbing the indiscriminate killing of people by its trigger-happy cops.

 

The Nigeria Army must likewise be made to take responsibility for the actions of its soldiers as only then can remedy and restitution be gained. It is beginning to earn itself notoriety for regrettable killings and operations made worse by a failure to punish individual perpetrators within its rank. The Nigeria Army is no where above the law and must be subject to disciplinary actions deemed fit and just in circumstances such as this.

As a group, we extend our condolences to the surviving family members and friends of the slain policemen, we express the hope therein that the Nigeria Government will setup a special fund as a palliative or amelioration of the sudden burden incurred by this deaths. We also hope that maximum training will become a key feature of the Police and Army, while a stimulus for inter-agency cooperation and exchange of information will be undertaken with alacrity to forestall any such future occurrences.

 

Thank you.

Olaseni Shalom,

Executive Director,

United Global Resolve For Peace

(UGRFP).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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