The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, yesterday, said there was palpable evidence that the escalation in the spate of attacks by the Boko Haram group on Police and security installations “is a probable reaction to the extra-judicial execution of the leader of the sect, Mohammad Yusuf, while in Police custody in 2009.”
The AGF who spoke at the national dialogue on “Torture, Extrajudicial Killings And National Security: Human Rights Implications” organised by the National Human Right Commission, NHRC, further decried report that the reckless use of arms by security agents had resulted in 7,198 extrajudicial deaths in four years across the country, adding that “more recently, the chairman of the NHRC opined that this approximated to the summary execution of well over 2, 500 detainees.”
He noted: “Although these figures have been stoutly disputed by the police, even the most charitable defenders of the Force cannot deny that some dishonourable officers indeed have taken the law into their hands in the most barbaric fashion by killing suspects and innocent citizens.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the constitutional derogation to the right to life which sanctions the use of force to curb an escapee is no blank cheque to carry out extra-judicial killings. The provision can only be invoked where death arises as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained.
Why extra-judicial killings are on the rise
“Several factors have been advanced to rationalize the rising wave of police brutality and extrajudicial killings. Such reasons include the conditions of service of the Police, especially the poor salary, living condition in the barracks and low self-esteem. All of these combine, it is often argued, to make the Policeman an angry man with arms thus putting him on edge and frequently on the lookout for illicit and corrupt enrichment.
“Nonetheless, government cannot afford to ignore this dangerous trend by which lives of innocent citizens are endangered or snuffed out by those whose constitutional duty it is to secure the lives and property of the citizenry. Most of these challenges appear to have been significantly tackled by the recommendations of the Presidential Committee on the Re-organization of the Nigeria Police which recently submitted its report.
“It is instructive that among other recommendations, the report highlighted the need to embark on a continuous weeding out of bad and unscrupulous elements who on account of arbitrariness and opaqueness in recruitment exercise had found their way into the force.