An officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ogah Ochigbo Jumbo, was recently killed by a traffic warden in Abuja after he was said to have disobeyed traffic regulations. There are other cases where the police are accused of killing unarmed people. How should the Police Force handle such matters among its ranks? Daily Trust sought opinions.
Shabul Mazadu, 48, Publisher, Jos
Any Police personnel accused of extrajudicial killing should be charged to court, and if found guilty he should face the penalty for murder, as well as the Force’s penalty for abuse of code of conduct and ethics.
To stem the tide of extra judicial killings, the following should be considered: The police condition of service should be improved and payment of salaries must be prompt because delay in salaries can lead to frustration and anger. This can lead to transfer of aggression. Also, there should be routine psychiatric check-up for police personnel as there are so many factors that can lead to mental problems arising from home, community, religion and others, which could make them kill extrajudicially.
In addition, police personnel must undergo hard drugs test from time to time because if they are under the influence of drugs, they can kill easily. Recruits with traits of unruly behaviour, those who are temperamental, religious extremists, and the likes should be dropped during recruitment. Employment should not be done based on godfatherism, but merit and those selected must undergo proper recruitment stages.
Esther Ameh Idah, 33, Businesswoman, Kaduna
Extrajudicial killing is the killing of a person by governmental authorities, agencies and related individuals unnecessarily or unlawfully. It deserves stiff punishment. Recently, a Nigerian Civil Defence personnel was killed by policemen in Abuja because he violated traffic rules, and worse, he was killed in the presence of his family. To me, this is even more than extrajudicial killing. The government and police authorities should take stiff action against perpetrators of such act.
Generally, it is important for the Nigeria Police Force to streamline and prioritize internal control by establishing a public compliant unit at all the police stations. The government, including the National Assembly and the anti-corruption agencies should improve transparency and accountability in the Police Force by reforming and ensuring better coordination of oversight mechanisms. They should also investigate and prosecute without delay.
James Sunday, 36, Communications Expert, Kaduna
Extrajudicial killings involving security agents, especially the police in Nigeria, is now on a record high. It is quite alarming that those who should protect citizens are the perpetrators of this menace. The police shoot and kill innocent citizens at the slightest provocation, and because there is no system in place to check this form of abuse, no decisive action is taken and it continues. The government should, as a matter of urgency, set up a commission of inquiry to look into cases of extrajudicial killings by police and mete out appropriate sanctions on those found culpable. The National Human Rights Commission must also wake up from its slumber and follow up with reported cases.
We are a nation of laws. Hence the rule of law must prevail over every other consideration. Why we remain on the brink is because there are no strict punishment for illegal actions by policemen. The average Nigerian police man lacks basic understanding of the relationship between policing and human rights. Greed and overzealousness has eaten deep into the system. The average policeman on the high way is not thinking about carrying out the responsibility of ensuring the safety of citizens. Instead, what they care about is how they can extort motorists, even in broad daylight. They are also ready to shoot should commercial motorists fail to comply.
We can’t continue like this. We need our police vehicles and even uniforms to be equipped with cameras that will record police operations in real time. This will help stem the tide of extrajudicial killings and officers found wanting should be made to face the law squarely.
Ultimately, the Nigeria Police Force should henceforth summarily dismiss and place on trial any of its officer(s) involved in any case of extrajudicial killings as deterrence. They should also withhold any benefit due to such officers after dismissal.
Evelyn Adikwu, Abuja, Media Consultant
Extrajudicial killings are unjust. As humans, we all have the right to life and nobody’s life should be taken under any circumstances, except and if it is ordered by the court of law. The culprits involved in the recent killing of a Civil Defence staff, Ogah Jumbo Ochigbo, should be dealt with squarely by the police authorities. Some of the measures I feel is suitable for such killings should be death by hanging or firing squad. Such measures will send a strong warning to other officers to be very careful when dealing with harmless citizens.
Olumide Olaniyan, Poet, Abuja
There is need for the re-education of policemen and women on how sacrosanct human life is. We need to train police on modern ways of getting information, rather than the use of brutality they are used to from the era of West African Frontier Forces. This retraining will put them in good stead to see crime prevention and reduction as ways of reducing criminality, rather than use of force. Also, there is need to promote social relationship amongst policemen and women, irrespective of their ranks. Lastly, their welfare should be improved, particularly that of the junior staff, and anyone that commits extrajudicial killing should be dealt with according to the law. They should be made an example. There should be no cover up.