By SaharaReporters, New York
The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to sack the Inspector General of Police (IGP), M.D. Abubakar, for gross incompetence, and to restructure the security and law enforcement institutions if his administration intends to win the war against terror.
In a statement yesterday, LEDAP National Coordinator Chino Obiagwu said that the IGP has since his appointment failed to demonstrate any commitment and capacity to control widespread criminality and to stop police killings of innocent citizens, pointing out that in Lagos alone over 10 people have been killed in two weeks by the police.
“Early this week, the IGP publicly demonstrated his incompetence when he declared to his superior officers that there is no anti-terrorism law in Nigeria, and that is the reason police has not prosecuted thousands of persons illegally detained across the country on allegations of being a member of Boko Haram or unlawful possession of firearm,” the statement said. Some of those people, it noted, have been detained up to five years without charge before any competent court.
LEDAP described as “unpardonable,” the fact that Nigeria’s police chief is ignorant of Nigeria’s Terrorism Prevention Act, which was enacted in 2011 and amended in 2012.
It pointed out that the IGP is constitutionally mandated to uphold the law and protect lives and properties, and if he does not even know the laws and is unable to protect lives, then he should resign or be dismissed.
“In any event, the police does not need an anti-terrorism law to charge and prosecuted those arrested and detained. The Criminal Code and Penal Codecontain sufficient provisions for such charge.
“Moreover, if there is no law under which the police would charge the suspects, then there was no legal basis for their arrest and detention in the first place. The IGP by declaring that there is no anti-terrorism law to
charge the detainees was admitting that those held are being detained unlawfully. They therefore must be released forthwith with adequate compensation.”
LEDAP also pointed out that the Nigeria constitution protects the rights of citizen to their personal liberty and provides that no one can be detained arbitrarily except in accordance with the law, and that anyone arrested must be charged to court or granted bail within a maximum of two days unless the person is detained on suspicion of committing a capital offence.
“Being a member of Boko Haram and unlawful possession of firearms are not capital offences and are therefore bailable,” it said.
LEDAP stressed that there is no basis for the continued indefinite detention of the persons involved, some of whom are women and children,saying that their continued detention is “utterly unwarranted, clearly
unconstitutional and grossly provocative.”
LEDAP calls on President Jonathan to sanitise the security sector and appoint knowledgeable and competent persons as IGP, even if from outside the police system, so as to ensure an improved national security and
It also called for the full investigation and prosecution of police men and members of Joint Task Force (JTF) involved in extra judicial killings of any kind and for prosecution of all those involved.
LEDAP also challenged the National Assembly to go beyond the mere rhetoric for which it has been known for many years, and take concrete action under their constitutional oversight functions to review the security institutions and mutual cooperation in order to address all potentials for incompetence, leakages and corruption in the sector.
“Nigerians are already getting tired of apparent failure of the capacity of government to firmly improve security situation in the country,” it warned. “It is clear that if something urgent is not done to sanitize the security sector, the country might slip into uncontrollable state of anarchy and uncontrollable violence, which will threaten the sovereign integrity of the nation.”
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