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Friday, 13 April 2012


The Civil Society community in Nigeria has condemned the reported planned arrest of the chairman, governing board of the Nigerian National HUMAN Rights Commission [NHRC] Professor Chidi Odinkalu by the police over allegation by the Rights Chief that police routinely kill scores of Nigerians in police detention facilities in the country every year.

A democracy inclined civil society group –HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) in a statement issued to the media and jointly endorsed by the Executive Director Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Director of Media Affairs, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said the holder of the office of the Inspector General of police lacks the Constitutional power of Summon which belongs only to the competent courts of law in line with section 6 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

Besides, the Rights group which said the National HUMAN Rights Commission of Nigeria as an Independent organ is not within the sphere of control of the office of the Inspector General of police and therefore the chairman of the Rights commission cannot validly be queried by the holder of the office of the Inspector General of police talk less Mr. Mohammed Abubakar who currently occupies a non-existent and an unconstitutional office of the Acting Inspector General of police.

“We wonder why a holder of an illegal office of ‘ACTING’ Inspector General of Police not recognized by the Constitution of Nigeria could muster courage to issue an illegal instruction directed at a validly appointed head of a statutory institution that is operationally and financially independent”, HURIWA affirmed.

Specifically, media reports stated that the police top hierarchy had invited the chairman of the Nigeria’s National HUMAN Rights Commission, Professor Chidi Odinkalu for questioning over allegations he made in his official capacity that policemen routinely engage in extra-legal execution of suspects in the lawful detention of the Nigeria police Force. The Rights chief quoted from a report of findings made by respected consortium of organized civil society community and from the United Nations document.

A letter from the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja cited by Journalists directed the HUMAN Rights panel’s boss to appear by 11am on Friday April 13th 2012 before the Deputy Inspector General of police in charge of criminal investigation Mr. Peter Yisa Gana.

But HUMAN Rights WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA dismissed the purported police invitation of the chairman of the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission as “another attempt by a notoriously incompetent police establishment to undermine the exercise of freedom of expression and the Independence of the nation’s Premier Rights body”.

HURIWA which cited the United States of America’s Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo’s verdict whereby the Freedom of expression was aptly described as “the matrix, and the Indispensable condition of nearly every form of freedom”, also faulted the claim by the police authority that the allegation of serial extra-judicial execution of suspects by police amounted to a breach of the national security. HURIWA said public disclosure of the extent of serial extra-legal execution of suspects by police will serve public interest because the implication is that relevant authorities will now be put under intense pressure to prosecute indicted police operatives.

The Rights group stated thus; “We totally reject any attempt by the current police hierarchy to undermine the exercise of freedom of opinion, expression and information as prescribed by chapter four of our Constitution”.

Citing the Johannesburg principles on national security, Freedom of expression and access to Information which states that ‘any restriction on expression or information must be prescribed by law’ and that ‘the law must be accessible, unambiguous, drawn narrowly and with precisions so as to enable individuals to foresee whether a particular action is unlawful’, HURIWA said the Constitution of Nigeria, guarantees freedom of expression as enshrined in section 39(1) of the Constitution.

HURIWA reminded the police hierarchy that only few months back, a human rights expert from the United Nations’ HUMAN Rights Council visited different police detention facilities in Nigeria and returned very damaging evidence that operatives of the Nigerian police routinely carry out extra-legal execution of suspects in police custody and wondered why the police hierarchy failed to arrest and prosecute the indicted police operatives.

The group said it was a notorious fact in the public domain that operatives of the Nigeria police have bad image as regards violation of the right to life of Nigerians and wondered why the Acting Inspector General of police wants to ‘wield illegal and unconstitutional power’ to muzzle the Independence of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION of Nigeria.

The Rights group asked President Good luck Jonathan to call the Acting Inspector General of police to order and stated that the members of the organized civil society community will not stand by and watch the police hierarchy destroy the only institution that protects and promotes human rights of the citizenry.             


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