By Moses Omorogieva
Lagos – The National Coordinator of the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mr Ikechukwu Nwanguma said Police’s wrongful law enforcement methods had discouraged community collaboration in security matters.
Nwanguma stated this on Tuesday in Lagos while giving an overview of the normative framework governing Police Powers and duties in Nigeria during security stakeholders-Media Engagement Series.
The programme organised by RULAAC in collaboration with Nigerian Policing Programmes (NPP), had it’s theme as: “Police Duties and the Limit of Police Powers”.
Nwanguma said that investigation over the years showed that the conduct and operations of the Nigeria police mostly bear no resemblance to the laws governing its operations.
“The leadership of the NPF have acknowledged the principle that the police was created and regulated by law and that any form of exercise of police powers which does not strictly conform to the prescriptions of the law can have unpleasant consequences.
“The consequences will affect the police force as a corporate entity, as well as for the individual police personnel.
“Subsequent police leadership have acknowledged the fact that abuse of police powers, abuse of due legal process and unprofessional conducts perpetuates a bad image for the NPF and corrode public trust and cooperation,
“The day-to-day conduct of Police in protecting and ensuring the human rights of all persons contributes to safe, stable and peaceful communities. And Violation of rights only undermines, rather than enables, the possibilities of real security and stability,” he said.
Nwanguma, however, noted that many officers and men of the force are doing great jobs in different capacities, urging the authorities to recognise these good officers and give them award to encourage others.
Mr Malachy Ugwummadu, a human right and civil society lawyer, spoke on Police Stop and Search targeting young persons; Search of wallets, vehicles, electronic gadgets (laptops, mobile phones, etc) without warrant; unlawful detention and extortion.
Ugwummadu said the police had the powers to arrest, search with or without warrant but must carry out such operation within the law of the land, saying that a crime must be written and have punishment for it to be prosecuted.
He urged the public not to be fixated about warrant of arrest and search, stressing that law that established the NPF gives enormous power of it to act with or without warrant.
Ugwummadu said that the 1999 Constitution that established the NPF did not review the colonial law which first established the force to protect colonial master, stressing that as at today, Nigeria is the only country the I-GP takes directive from the President.
He said this position has not given the I-GP the power to operate freely in their best capacities, including the security of states under commissioners of police; who also take directives before obeying a state governor.
The human right lawyer, therefore, called for the peoples constitution to replace the 1999 military constitution, while urging the public to know their rights and powers of the police.
Some police officers present at the meeting said that there were many good things some officers were carrying out in the force, contrary to false stories in the social media.
The officers, however, indicted the civil society and human rights organisations for protecting suspected criminals in the name of human rights law.
The officers said that many operations of the police does not need warrant or letter of invitation if such crimes were to be checked, such as Armed robbery, defilement, kidnapping and other violent crimes.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that more than 30 people drawn from the police, civil society, human rights, National Human Commission, Child’s Rights advocates and the media participated in the meeting.