Recently, the Chairman, Governing Council of the NHRC, Prof. C. Odinkalu, said at a workshop in Abuja, that the Nigerian police executes over 5,000 detainees summarily every year. He said that officers responsible for the killings were never punished
In a bizarre response, Olusola Amore, a deputy commissioner of police, did not deny the allegations of extra-judicial killings by the Nigerian police. He only argued that the number the commission stated was not accurate.
The Daily Post reports that Mr. Amore admitted that there have been incidents of extra-judicial killing by officers of the police force, but he argued, ostensibly to justify the Nigerian police, that officers have not killed as many Nigerians as the commission claims. Mr. Amore argued that the commission should have consulted the police for an accurate estimate of the number of Nigerians police officers have killed.
The Daily Post reports Amore said: “I am not aware of the report because the commission did not consult the police to verify the actual number. I don’t know how they arrived at that but it’s their opinion and they are entitled to their opinion,”
Amore continued: "I can’t say there was no case of extra-judicial killing by the police. During the fuel subsidy protest, a DPO was allegedly said to have fired shots that led to the death of a protester in Lagos and he was arrested”.
The Punch reports that prominent Nigerian lawyers, including Professor Itse Sagay, Mr Bamidele Aturu, and a group called the Legal Defence and Assistance Project, reacting to persistent reports of extra-judicial killings by the police force, called for prosecution of law enforcement personnel in Lagos State where there have been several recent reports.
Sagay, said: “Extra-judicial killing is always a major offence. I rank it as a crime against humanity. It is an illegal execution. Policemen are becoming unreliable and untrustworthy by taking lives instead of protecting them. We no longer trust the police. The Inspector-General and the commissioners have to clamp down on their officials so as to have a police force that will protect and not kill us.”
The Punch reports that Aturu argued that killings will continue if authorities do not move to prosecute previous cases. He said: “The extra-judicial killings are unlawful, unconstitutional, wicked, indefensible and an act of lawlessness. The people who should protect lives are now taking lives and that is immoral.”
The Nigerian Police Force has a long history of extra-judicial killing of citizens, but only very few cases of officers being prosecuted. The Punch (1,2) lists recent cases of extra-judicial killing of Nigerians:
November 10, an employee of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Femi Badejo, and his security guard, Joshua Moses, were shot by policemen in Lagos.
Nov. 9, an unidentified commercial driver was allegedly shot by a police officer attached to a new generation bank for stopping in front of the bank to pick a passenger in Uruagu, Anambra State.
Nov. 7, a bus conductor was allegedly shot dead by a police officer dressed in mufti at Ojota, in Lagos State. The conductor was said to have been shot because he allegedly stepped on the policeman.
November 7, a policeman, Oluwatiyesi Gboyega, attached to the Alapere Police Division, Ketu, Lagos, allegedly shot and killed a bus conductor at Tipper Bus Stop during an argument over N50 [tip].
Nov. 6, a commercial motorcyclist was shot by a police officer at Ilupeju, Lagos State. The act led to a protest by okada riders.
October 12, 20-year-old sales girl, Lucy Ukpong, left her home for work at a photography shop in Apo, Abuja, a "stray bullet" fired by a policeman on "illegal duty" in the area sent her to an early grave,
October 17, a policeman attached to Ago Police Division, Okota, Lagos, allegedly shot two men, Adebisi Adewole and Gbenga Abiodun, at GKS Bus Stop, Ago Palace Road, for attempting to intervene in the arrest of commercial motorcycle riders.
October 23, an unidentified policeman from Pen Cinema Police Division, Agege, Lagos State, allegedly killed an Okada rider identified simply as Omo Saki, after hitting him with a baton on the head on Oba Ogunnusi Road, Ogba.
Sept. 13, a commercial driver was allegedly killed by a police officer in Iperu Remo, Ogun State, for hitting a police patrol van.
Sept. 6, a policeman, who was drunk, allegedly killed one Dele Oroja, the Chairman of Keke Marwa Three Wheelers Association, Meiran/Ile-Epo branch. Oroja was reportedly shot dead by a police corporal, Abbey Adekunle.
September 2, five days after his wedding to Joan, 36-year-old Ugochukwu Ozuah, was allegedly killed by policemen attached to the Anthony Division.
The list grows daily.
Most Nigerians believe that the killings continue because officers are never prosecuted. Others say poor professional training in the use of firearms contributes.
The Punch reports that the National Coordinator of the Legal Defence and Assistant Project, Chino Obiagwu, says his group is working to ensure prosecution of police officers involved in extra-judicial killings. He said:
“This keeps going on because nobody is being punished. We are documenting these killings and when we are done, we will follow up the cases to know what the Federal Government is doing about them. We have also asked the Director of Public Prosecutions and the commissioners of police to prosecute their men and bring justice to full course."
According to Obiagwe, there has been a sharp increase in killings between 2010 and 2012. He claims that several cases, especially of suspected criminals in police custody, were never formally documented or reported in the media.
The Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Innocent Chukwuma, said that another factor that contributes to killings is the conditional option that police should solve crime issues within 48 hours of arrest.
Chukwuma said his group is working with the police and the FG to prosecute offending officers: “We at CLEEN Foundation are working with the police and the FG to stop these killings and prosecute these killers. At least, about 500 police officers are being dismissed yearly.”
The response by police authorities to media inquiries is typical: Mr Mba, Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, told The Sunday Punch:
“All the cases are under investigation. If at the end of the investigation anyone is found culpable, the force will ensure proper prosecution. Such cases have been reported and we have always been fair in handling them.”
In Nigeria, cases of extra-judicial killing remain "under investigation" perpetually. Only very few cases are ever prosecuted