Nigeria: Protect Yourselves, IGP Tells Officers

31 October 2020

Begs personnel to return to duty posts

Right to self-defence not licence to kill - Lawyers

Idowu Isamotu, John Chuks Azu & Abbas Jimoh

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on Friday charged personnel of the force to protect themselves in cases of assault at their respective duty posts.

Addressing his men at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) command immediately he returned from an assessment tour to various police facilities destroyed by hoodlums during #EndSARS protests, the IGP appealed to them to return to their duty posts.

He said he decided to embark on the tour to boost the morale of officers who abandoned the streets for the past few days, sequel to various attacks suffered by the security operatives in various states.

According to him, the #EndSARS protesters were out to demoralise the personnel, adding that government and the Nigeria Police Force would soon roll out a package for their welfare and those who have lost their lives during the nationwide protests.

He said, "We are here today to tell you that government is concerned with what happened and is behind all of us.

The country is relying on us to make sure that the public space is not taken over by criminals. So, no amount of provocation and insult will make us to shy away from our responsibilities.

We will encourage you to continue performing your duties and be professional. We will encourage you to be civil, but if anybody touches or assaults you, you can protect yourselves.

When we talk of human rights, the police are humans. So the rights of police officers should also be protected. Legally, we have the right to protect ourselves."

He further said, "The Federal Government has bowed to make sure that from now onward, the police are reformed in all segments. It is for that reason that government has been trying to come up with an intervention in terms of Police Trust Fund.

Not only that, within the new Police Act that has been passed into law, we have a lot of provisions that take care of the welfare of officers.

The IGP also inaugurated a 9-man committee to assess the losses suffered by his men. The committee, which has Commissioner of Police Abutu Yaro as chairman, is expected to submit its report within three weeks.

196 suspects arrested, arraigned

Speaking earlier, the Commissioner of Police, FCT command, Bala Ciroma, disclosed that no fewer than 16 major incidents were recorded from violent clashes in Abuja, where 10 lives were lost and several persons sustained varying degrees of injury.

He said the command had, however, arrested and arraigned 196 suspects in connection with arson on private property and a police outpost at Dutse-Makaranta.

Ciroma said, "The command recorded 16 major incidents resulting from violent clashes that erupted at Berger roundabout, Apo-Kabusa and Dutse-Alhaji. This was followed by a high wave of looting and vandalism of public infrastructures, warehouses and other private properties at Kubwa, Gwagwalada, Jabi, Daki-Biu, Iddo and Wuye.

The most devastating of these unpropitious activities was the malicious burning of the Dutse-Makaranta police outpost."

Right to self-defence not licence to kill - Lawyers

Senior lawyers have warned that the directive by the IGP should not be interpreted as a licence to kill at the slightest provocation.

Reacting to the directive yesterday, Ajibola Oluyede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said it was within the realm of self-defence in law, but it should only be commensurate with the threat.

"Police officers shouldn't use it as an excuse the blow off the head of anyone who provokes them. It is good for them to know that if they are under attack they can react. Everybody has a right to self-defence," he said.

Also reacting, Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) said the constitution guaranteed the right to self-defence for everybody, including police officers. He, however, warned that if it is not commensurate with the level of threat or attack, the officers would be liable to prosecution for murder.

The Executive Director, OJA Development Consult, Mr Jide Ojo, said that the IGP is in order regarding his order as the morale of police officers is low following the recent attacks on them, which lead to to over 20 of them killed in the recent nationwide protest and leaving many police stations stations attacked and burnt.

"This is not an incitement. The order was one for them to attack innocent people. This was to defend themselves. And I don't know of anywhere where the Police or any other security agents would be asked not to defend themselves if they were attacked. However, this does not mean that they should now go about attacking innocent people and acting unprofessionally," Ojo said.

Former Director-General of Department of State Security Service, Mike Ejiofor, said, "IGP's instruction is clear. It is unambiguous because the law of nature, self-preservation is important. For you to protect people, you must protect yourself. There is nothing strange because what actually happened was very disappointing that people had to complain.

"I agree there were excesses, we agree they (Police) have excesses, but you cannot throw away the baby away together with the bath water, we are suffering it and everybody is suffering it. I think it is a good directive, but that is not to say that they should be excessive in trying to protect themselves. They shouldn't be excess.

"They should operate within the precincts of law of the land. They should be fair during this arrest of #ENDSARS suspects.There is nothing wrong with the directive by the IGP but what I am saying is, they should also be very careful so that they are not accused again."

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