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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

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

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.

 

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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