Friday, 27 November 2015

Extra-judicial Killings, Right To Life Of Gunshot Victims in Nigeria

Food For Thought:
‘’First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one to speak for me’’. – Martin Niemöller

Scores of Nigerians die untimely, yearly due to extra-judicial killings usually by overzealous Nigerian security operatives and through gunshot injuries. Aside from the ‘’collateral damages’’ and factual extra-judicial killing of Boko Haram suspects sequel to the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in North-East Nigeria, Nigeria’s erstwhile Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, reportedly accused the Nigeria Police Force of being responsible for not less than 7, 108 deaths in the last four years as at December 2012.
The AGF reeled out the statistics of the unlawful killings at the ‘’Dialogue on Torture, Extra-judicial Killings and National Security’’ conference organized by the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in Abuja. He accused the police of relying on Police Force Order 237 to commit extra-judicial killings, and noted that out of the 7,108 killed, 2,500 were detainees awaiting trial.

Typical Unresolved Cases of Extra-judicial Killings, Gunshot Victims In Nigeria

In what became infamous as ‘’The Apo Six’’, in June 2005, five young male traders and a female student (Miss Augusta Arebu) were allegedly and brutally felled by a Police officer, one DCP Ibrahim Danjuma at Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Ten years after this heinous crime against humanity, the criminal trial of the mastermind is stuck. On February 25, 2013, two students of the Nassarawa State University were allegedly murdered by Nigerian soldiers and police. Sometime in June 2013, dozens of bodies of supposed victims of extra-judicial killing were found dumped and floating inside Ezu River in Anambra State, South East Nigeria. Characteristic of such events in Nigeria, nothing has been heard of the aforementioned incidents till date. Swept under the carpet, it is business as usual. Lately, a trigger-happy MOPOL (Mobile Police) personnel purportedly attached to Maroko Police Station in Lagos State, allegedly shot dead one Ms Beauty McLeod, a tennis star in cold blood after an altercation between the policeman and the deceased. It was reported that a couple of hospitals/clinics refused to admit, treat the deceased ab initio. By the time she was taken a medical facility that accepted her, she was said to have lost so much blood and died. Just recently, Punch newspaper reported an incident where a police corporal, one Yinka Oloko attached to SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) shot his wife dead somewhere in Egbeda, Lagos state due to the trite alibi of ‘’accidental discharge’’. Corporal Yinka was said to have shot his wife dead while trying to remove his pistol from the holster having retired home after the day’s assignment. These deaths are avoidable, preventable. The last incident reinforces the urgency for the Nigeria police to adopt very stringent weapon handling chain of custody. It is unethical for policemen to recklessly brandish weapons while dressed in mufti or to return to their rented apartments with loaded weapons. These scenarios and others too numerous to chronicle herein, necessitated this piece, an advocacy to rein in extra-judicial killings in Nigeria and for unfettered right to treatment and care of gunshot victims in Nigeria. 

Nigeria’s Archaic Firearms Act, A Clog On The Wheel

Notwithstanding the directive of Nigeria’s Inspector General of police – Mr. Solomon Arase in August 2015 urging medical professionals to treat accident and gunshot victims without seeking police clearance, the practice of insisting that victims’ first present evidence of police clearance before treatment subsists in many parts of Nigeria, especially in remote parts of the country. This this blamed on the provision of Nigeria’s ‘’Robbery and firearms (Special Provision) Act, Cap 398 of 1984’’ which seem to stipulate that medical professionals must request, obtain from gunshot victims, evidence of police clearance before they can attend to them. There is no gainsaying reiterating the fact that mandating gunshot victims to first seek and present a police report before they can be treated is  to say the least, anachronistic, not in tandem with global best practice and has led to the untimely death of countless innocent gunshot victims. More so, the refusal of medical practitioners to treat gunshot victims clearly negates the universal ethics and oaths of the medical profession (to save lives) which every medical practitioner swears to uphold.

Right To Life Is Inalienable

We are reminded that the right to life is an inalienable right enshrined in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right which expressly states that, ‘’every human being has inherent right to life, that this right shall be protected by law and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life’’. Save for the execution of the sentence of a court in respect of criminal offences where a culprit has been found guilty and exhausted legal options available to him and a couple of exceptions – while suppressing a riot et al, Chapter Four of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution guarantees this extant and undeniable right to life of a human being.  

Our Demands And Recommendations

Beyond the proclamation of the Police Boss which does not seem to have percolated across the nook and cranny of Nigeria (especially in remote parts of the country), we enjoin Nigeria’s National Assembly (the Senate and the House of Representatives) to harmonize and expedite passage of the ‘’Bill for an Act to make provisions for the compulsory treatment and care for the victims of gunshot and other matters connected therewith’’ which is sponsored by a Nigerian lawmaker – Nkiruka Onyejeocha. We also call for quick dispensation of justice in Nigeria. A situation where an accused remains on detention awaiting trial for ten or more years is a slap on Nigeria’s criminal justice system.
The primary responsibility of any government and by extension, the security agencies world-over, is the preservation, protection of lives and properties, not indiscriminate extra-judicial killing of innocent folks. Nigerians appreciate the sacrifices and the onerous task our security operatives are encumbered with in discharging their duties. We implore the security agencies to routinely train and retrain its personnel on weapon handling best practices to forestall so-called unacceptable and spurious incidents of ‘’accidental discharge’’. Given the haziness and mass ignorance on existent provision of treatment of gunshot victims in Nigeria, we also enjoin Nigeria’s National Orientation Agency, Civil Society Groups (NGOs) to bring this Cause to the front burner to forestall continued avoidable loss of lives in Nigeria. Ongoing public awareness and enlightenment campaigns in this regard will do a lot of good. 

Interestingly, the Nigeria police now calls on the public to hold it accountable and responsible. The Police recently launched its ICT compliant, multi-platform Complaint Response Unit, a department that handles in real time, queries, complaints and concerns about unprofessional conducts of errant or unscrupulous officers and men of the Nigeria police. For information on how to lodge a complaint or to seek any information from the Nigeria Police, kindly read up my article: ‘’Nigerians, Let’s Hold The Police Responsible And Accountable Through The Complaint Response Unit (CRU)’’

Be a voice for the voiceless! Do something! Take back humanity!

Written by:

© Don Okereke

November, 2015
Don Okereke is a passionate, innovative, Information Technology, Social Media-Savvy and proven Security Analyst/Consultant, researcher, writer/blogger, and change agent with over 17 years combined Military (Air Force), Private/Industrial Security, entrepreneurial, management skills/experience distilled from Nigeria and the United kingdom. Don loves entrepreneurship and is the Founder/CEO of Forenovate Technologies Limited (RC 755695). His interest and expertise span Security/Safety/ICT/Cultural Awareness Training, Threat/Travel Advisory, Risk Assessments & mitigation, Security survey/mapping, Loss/Fraud Prevention, Due Diligence and Investigations,  Executive/Asset Protection, Business Continuity & Emergency Planning, Background Screening/Vetting,  Competitive Intelligence, Research and Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Information Retrieval, Countering Violent Extremism Advocacy and Public Speaking, amongst others. Don has featured on conferences/seminars as a Guest Speaker and he is routinely consulted by foreign, local, print/electronic organizations for his expert opinion on issues impinging national, personal security and geopolitics. His passion, knack for writing has seen his articles published on major Nigerian newspapers such The Guardian, The Nation, NewsWatch, Tell Magazine and various reputable local and foreign social media/online platforms. Don’s loves humanity; disappointed with the rampaging insecurity, terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria, he took it upon himself to champion an Advocacy Cause against vestiges of insecurity under the aegis of ‘’Nigerians Unite Against Insecurity and Terrorism’’ and ‘’Say No To Terrorism and Insurgency’’.