By the written signals and circulars issued yesterday, Sat, 7th Nov 2020 by Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force, Alhaji Adamu Abubakar, to the Force’s principal officers, ordering them and their subordinates to use ‘lawful force’, henceforth, against Nigerians, “in defense of themselves, their personnel and properties”; it is now clear and unarguable that the present High Command and Officers of the Nigeria Police Force are unchangeable and ‘untrainable’. In other words, they are not only chronically uninformed in modern policing but also “experts” only when it comes to corking, shooting, killing and maiming defenseless citizens. The order also practically indicates the end of the so called “police reforms” in Nigeria.
The referenced moves and actions by the IGP are therefore strongly condemned. Condemned too is the IGP’s matching order to the named to henceforth ‘”repel” any further street protests in Nigeria or any part thereof. The IGP is not only called upon to retrace his steps and watch his homicidal utterances but also to lead the NPF and midwife the internal security of Nigeria democratically and within the ambits of the rule of law, or throw in the towel. Democratic free speeches and assemblies must remain the axiom of democracy and its process in the country and must also be strictly adhered to all the times. As a key member of the UN System, Nigeria must abide by the dictates of international norms and laws including ten basic principles in policing and managing democratic free speeches and assemblies in a democratic republic.
The above was the position of the Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, in a statement issued today in Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria and signed by its Five Principal Officers: Emeka Umeagbalasi (Board Chair), Chinwe Umeche, Esq., (Head of Democracy), Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., (Head of Civil Liberties), Ndidiamaka Bernard, Esq., (Head of Int’l Justice & Human Rights) and Comrade Sam Kamanyaoku (Head of Field Data Collection & Documentation)
The IGP’s ‘heavy’ reliance on ‘exceptional circumstances’ provisions of the Chapter Four or Fundamental Human Rights (sub sections 1 and 2 of mother Section 33 or right to life) of the existing Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended for generalization of his ‘use of force order’ is homicidally intended and tantamount to issuance of ‘license to kill or massacre’ defenseless citizens at slightest or no provocation. We are also in possession of a Channels Television aired video clip recorded on Thursday, 5th Nov 2020 in Owerri, Imo State where the IGP orally issued “use your loaded rifle’ directive to officers and personnel of the NPF across the country. The IGP had during his visit to key police formations in the State ordered them to ‘use your rifle when under “attack”. The video clip is attached in this statement.
The IGP’s ‘use of force order’ is expected to lead to quadruple increase in cases of police extrajudicial violence against defenseless citizens especially the road users and those taken into police custodies. This is more so when the Force has consistently maintained an entrenched culture of lies and spinning, to the extent that when its personnel unprofessionally process (torture or shoot) and kill citizens under their custody or those confronted at police roadblocks especially those who refuse or are unable to offer them bribes, the Force will turn around and falsely label them “armed robbers” or “kidnappers” or “jail/cell breakers”.
The NPF is also notorious in mangling or spinning casualty or injury figures of those its field or custody personnel shot and killed or shot and deadly wounded or those tortured to death or half death. For instance, in the NPF written signals and circulars under reference, the Force lied provocatively concerning the number of defenseless citizens its personnel and soldiers killed across the country during EndSARS protests. The Force had claimed “51 civilian fatalities” and “36 civilian injuries”; whereas contrary was the case.
By credibly investigated independent accounts, Nigeria lost over 200 defenseless civilians and 300 injured others to Police and Army shootings and the Government allied armed hoodlums. In Southeast alone, over 60 were lost and 120 injured. In Lagos State, at least 50 were lost and multiple dozens injured. The Lagos State Government also confirmed over 23 injuries alone during the Army shootings and killings at Lekki Tollgate on 20th Oct 2020. Similar litany of lies is being exposed over the Lekki Massacre where the Nigerian Army initially and severally denied any involvement but later somersaulted, saying its Lt Col S.O. Bello actually led soldiers to the scene, but “only shot in the air and did not kill or injure any protester, except two persons that fainted”. Contradictorily, the Lagos Gov had earlier admitted that over 23 persons were shot and injured in the attack.
The NPF and its sworn personnel have therefore continually clicked on ‘AK-47’ and ‘born-before-computer’ driven policing, which have long become globally outdated; and paid little or no attention to logical analytical skills and ICT intellectualism in matters of intelligence, detective and investigative policing. Even in the policing or management of democratic free speeches and assemblies including peaceful protests and processions or instigated or provoked violent protests or riots; the NPF and its personnel are still thousands of miles away.
It is also clear and obvious that IGP Adamu Abubakar is starkly ignorant in matters of globally standardized meaning of ‘lawful force’ and use of it. To him, “constitutionally defined or globally standardized lawful force” is when police officers open fire with their rifles, procured and maintained with public funds, and kill or deadly maim defenseless or unarmed citizens-claiming to have done same “in self defense” or “in defense of properties”. It is therefore most likely correct to say that when the IGP talks about “use of lawful force”, he is expressly but atrociously referring to ‘use of lethal force’ against unarmed and defenseless citizens including peaceful protesters or provoked minimally violent protesters or agitators, other than those engaging in active armed resistance..
Contrarily, lawful force and use of same are chiefly driven by the trio of circumstances, proportionality and gravity of force applied. For instance, it is deadly use of force, forbidden and atrocious for a police officer to open fire with live bullet and kill a protester who is gesticulating or verbally uttering words of mouth or another arming him/herself with insignias, or a provoked another arming him/herself with stones, sticks, planks or used metals. No police officer is allowed legally to open fire with live bullets on anybody that falls under this category, not to talk of aiming and shooting him or her at terminal regions of his or her body such as forehead/brain, chest/heart, abdomen/manhood, stomach, and eyes/nose/mouth.
It must be boldly pointed out and clarified here that “insurrectionists” are not street protesters or those engaging in socio-religious processions; likewise rioters, they are also not insurrectionists”. In the globally standardized social reactions/crises, riots/rioters are second to ‘natural disasters’, with difference being that ‘they are man-made and preventable’, if well responded to or managed by a sitting rule of law driven democratic Government.
Like natural disasters, riots/rioters come and go with spontaneous consequences and identities. That is to say that continuity and permanence are alien to acts of riots and rioters.
‘Insurrectionists’, on the other hand, usually comprise of khaki coupists in the Military or any group of persons actively taking up arms against Government and citizens of Nigeria or any part thereof-targeting or aiming at to toppling a sitting Government through active force of arms and/or wrecking havoc including mass killing of defenseless citizens or civilians and monumental destruction of public and strategic private/corporate properties. Examples of ‘insurrectionists’ in Nigeria are Boko Haram/ISWAP, Ansaru, Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and Jihadist Bandits and coupist elements within the Military, if any.
Therefore, under Nigeria’s body of criminal and civil laws including the country’s international version or rights and humanitarian treaty laws, Police and Army are restrictively permitted only to exchange gunfire, under cross fire, with ‘active’ insurrectionists or insurrectionists in action such as khaki coupists within the Military, if any and in the event of any military putsch. Same lawful use of lethal force by the NPF or the Military (when under attack) is extended to insurrectionists like Boko Haram/ISWAP, Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, Ansaru and Jihadist Bandits. Military personnel are totally forbidden from involvement in peaceful/provoked violent protests/processions. In riots, just like during natural emergencies or disasters, only military personnel trained in the art of expert management of humanitarian crisis situations are deployed or allowed, with strict guidelines on use of force
Finally, in the management of street protest or procession, whether peaceful or instigated non-peaceful, security protections, not attacks, are provided or allowed. In such situations, use of firearms is forbidden and allowed is the use of modern crowd or riot control skills and tools including: tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, electric tasers, batons, whips, water cannons, long-range acoustic devices, aerial surveillance, police dogs, etc; and the drafted police personnel must be bodily aided and protected with protective devices such as anti crowd helmets, face visors, body armor (i.e. vests, neck protectors, knee pads, etc), gas masks and anti crowd shields.