Friday, July 22, 2005


Many Nigerians still wary of police.
By Yusuf Sarki Muhammad - BBC News, Abuja.

Nigeria's police have a history of violence. A judicial panel set up by the Nigerian government is investigating the killing in Abuja by police of six traders from the nearby village of Apo. One of the accused, deputy police commissioner Danjuma Ibrahim, said that police plotted to ensure a suspect escaped so that he could be "indicted and killed". As the panel hears testimony from suspects and families of the dead, the newly appointed inspector-general of police, Sunday Ehindero, has been assessing his first six months in office.
The Apo tragedy is still very, very recent in our minds... for them to be celebrating, I think it is a national disgrace - Ojobo Atuluku.
He says that in that time, the police have arrested 600 armed robbery suspects and killed another 114 suspects who engaged them in battle. The police have also recovered more than 400 firearms. However, few people outside the service believe this is a commendable accomplishment. Even the police's new slogan, "to serve and protect with integrity", has failed to win over the public.
Ojobo Atuluku, a human rights campaigner, said the police are the same as they ever were.
"The police don't seem to have changed anything else about their nature, their practices or their processes," she said. "They seem to be doing good by their own indicators. There's a lot of human rights abuses, there's a lot of extortion still going on.
"The Apo tragedy is still very, very recent in our minds... for them to be celebrating, I think it is a national disgrace." Although the Apo incident has been well publicised, there are many other cases that have not received similar attention, as Clement Wasa from Community Action for Popular Participation, an Abuja-based NGO, pointed out. He gave as an example the case of Issa Adams, who he said was a victim of police brutality just a few days before the Apo killings.
"Issa Adams and his brother and a cousin were arrested along the airport road on the pretext that they were armed robbery suspects, and kept in police custody for over three days," he said.
"At the time they were arrested, their houses were seized and they were kept incommunicado for three days."


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