The Rule Of Law And Effect On The Civilian Citizens And Police Brutality

Feb 29, 2016 paul osita
In this recent times what is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear about the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and many issues have risen about the workings of the Nigeria police force. The incessant nature of police brutality to civilian citizens have been on the steady rise and the media is sometime an unwilling tool towards brandishing individuals guilty even before being tried, as detained individuals are labeled criminals even before trial.
The attitude by policemen to always have prison cells filled to the brim so as to extract bail from terrified parents and family members by labeling their children as hardened criminals.
Recently in Benin City, the Edo state capital, Some young men coming from the farm where arrested by policemen for the possession of cutlass, which was termed as dangerous weapons. Their crime was that they were dressed too clean to be embarking from a farm. Their pleas as they tried explaining how they left their dirty work clothes on the farm fell on deaf ears.
Presently, the recent agitation in the Niger delta and south eastern part of the country has generated a lot of controversy on the professionalism of our Police force.
25 year old Moses Onianwa  who works with Oshimili North LGA, was allegedly shot by policemen mounted on Ibusa Police Station in Delta State past Saturdays ago. Based on his friends who reached out to one of our sources, Moses was in company of three other friends and were monitoring the final Saturday LGA elections when police allegedly pursued and shot at them at Asaba.
A policeman allegedly shot dead a young man who was on his way to make preparations to deposit his father in the mortuary days ago. The man who hails from Abala in Obinggwa LGA, Abia State was on his motorcycle, heading to the bank to withdraw money in order to make deposit at the hospital when a police officer tried to stop him. It was while he was trying to escape from the police to avoid them seizing his bike that one of the police officers shot him dead.
Employee of the hotel, was alleged to have stolen N45,000 from a guest in one of the rooms he attended to.
The young man was arrested by the police from Adesuwa Police Station, who insisted that his parents came up with the sum of N27, 000 for his bail.
But by the time his people went back to the police with the amount, Edeh was cold dead.
Recent survey indicated that most young Nigerians running out of the country are victims of police brutality and witch hunt. In some parts of southern Nigeria, policemen are used to fight private vendettas by rich men or anyone who ‘has influence'. These officers are used to prosecute individuals or groups on any trumped up charge or under any guise.
In the South Eastern part of the country, the newest charge is either being a cult affiliate or a protesting member of any of the pro Biafran group. Early last year in Abia state, some youths were apprehended and detained on the charge of being suspected cultist and pro-biafra agitators. One of the youths, Izunna Ajaero who escaped capture was reported to have been hunted by the police and victimized. It was alleged that he was repeatedly besieged and extorted until he was threatened to be dealt with severely, until he reportedly fled. The nature of policemen to turn their aggression to family members when their prey is not within reach is an alarming and illegal act that should be discouraged and frowned upon.
Sometimes, one cannot fail to wonder on the rationality of some of the actions of some police officers. Recently, the internet was shocked with the news of a woman detained with her 2 year old son for 2 days because of her husband's debt and case of a 5 month old pregnant woman being detained for 4 days.
Over the years, men of the NPF have created bad records as violators of human rights with numerous cases of human rights violation by corps litter various courts of the federation.
According to the report, Bolanta allegedly brutalized and caused the arrest of the salesgirl, Favour Ibe, in Owerri, the state capital. The sales girl's boss, simply identified as Mr. Okorie who owns a shop at Wetheral Road in Owerri, said the former police commissioner had constantly attempted to forcefully eject him from his shop so that his (commissioner's) wife could take it over.
Rather than employing a legal means for eject him, the CP allegedly resorted to brutal means, including unlawful detention to get Okorie out of his office.
Out of frustration, as a result of the alleged constant bully, Okorie wrote a petition to an Owerri based Human Rights Organisation, in 2012 which was then forwarded to the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN).
According to the petition the former CP had on several occasions, detained Okorie before the last assault, being the brutalization, arrest and detention of his sales girl on ‘trumped up charges against his sales girl.'
The sales girl in her own account alleged that on that day “so many police officers came with three cars and went to a shop beside our shop to talk to the guy there and who directed them to me. When they got to our shop, they shouted come out of there! Come out of there!”
She further said that on sighting the men, she became afraid and locked herself inside the shop thereby preventing them from gaining access into the shop, thinking they were hoodlums who had come to attack her.
“When I opened the shop and came outside to meet them, they told me to tell my boss, Mr. Okorie, to vacate the shop before the next day, being December 13, for renovation,” she claimed.
The sales girl further said that as she picked her phone to in an attempt to call her, some men who thought she wanted to take their photographs pounced on her.
“About four or five officers pounced on me immediately and beat me black and blue, a particular officer kicked me so hard in the stomach and I fell,” she said.
To make the matter worse, the sales girl alleged that the men were accompanied by the former CP who ordered his men to drag her into his car. She also claimed she was taking to a police station where she spent a night.
This incident is one of the numerous cases of human rights violations by the police most especially in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that in 2009, Desmond Utonwen, a Senior Correspondent with The News Magazine was awarded N100 million as damages by an Abuja High Court. Utonwen was brutalized on December 11, 2009, by the police, bundled into the police vehicle and was later left with no medical treatment
Delivering the judgement, Justice U. P. Kekemeke, said the action of the police is a ‘violation of his right as enshrined in Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He therefore ordered the Police to pay N100million as ‘special damages for their wrongful acts'.
Though there are existing laws guiding human rights violations, such laws have done little to discourage offenders. Some of the laws include Section 46 of the CFRN 1999, the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2008 as well as the Rules of law of the various High Courts and the Federal High Court and relevant case law which is applicable and persuasive to the rules.
The Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2008 also grants special exclusive jurisdiction to the High Courts and on matters of appeal to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The relevant straight forward procedure in Order 1 Rule 1 of the Rules, even allows an ordinary person in addition to a lawyer to act as legal representative to file processes in court and to represent applicants in such proceedings.
The use of the application under these rules in Order 2 Rule 4 either as a Motion on Notice or Originating Summons is supported by affidavits outlining the facts and issues. The victim also is entitled to a number of reliefs as provided in Section 46 of the CFRN 1999.
Commenting on the issue of fundamental human rights and police brutality, constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Fred Agbaje is of the view that unless stricter laws are put in place and strong punishment s are meted on offenders, more cases of human rights abuses will continue to occur.
For this i say we need a rule of law that will effectively stop this police brutality to are civilians citizens .

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