Human rights organization grooms security agents on effective law enforcement

With Nigerians still nostalgic about the tragic events of the EndSARS protest, Citizens’ Gavel- a human rights-focused non-governmental organization recently held a capacity-building program for officers of Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria, in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The move was executed in support of Luminate Group and in partnership with Justice Development and Peace Commission, Ibadan, and was aimed towards achieving an effective law enforcement system in Nigeria.

The training focused on promoting the minimum standard in Law Enforcement Agencies, sensitized, and engaged the agencies on ways to infuse best practices relating to fundamental rights in the practices and procedures of law enforcement in the country at large.

Folorunsho Ijalana, former deputy commissioner of police, said the breach of fundamental human rights as a result of unauthorized use of force should attract disciplinary action; and in appropriate circumstances, should be treated as a crime.

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During his presentation, he focused on sensitizing the participants on best practices in striking the balance between law enforcement agencies, investigatory powers versus the people’s rights in Nigeria.

In his address, Bayo Taiwo, judge, High Court, Oyo State, engaged the participants on the proper interpretation of their duties as law enforcement officers.

According to him, the fact that an investigation or prosecution is going on does not mean a suspect or a detainee should be dehumanized, beaten, tortured or even killed.

Amnesty International documented at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial execution by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020.

The victims of the police unit, set up to fight violent crimes, are predominantly male between the ages of 18 and 35, from low-income backgrounds and vulnerable groups.

The police regularly commit human rights violations, including unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, and enforced disappearances. Hundreds of people remain on death row, and many sentenced after unfair trials.

“Extrajudicial killing or torture in the process of statement recording violates the constitution…” said Taiwo.

A total of forty-two (42) participants who were officers and dignitaries of various law enforcement agencies ranging from the Nigeria Police Force, Economic & Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps NSCDC, and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, was recorded at the capacity building programme.

Nelson Olanipekun, the team lead of Citizens’ Gavel, commended the tremendous effort of the various law enforcement agencies in the protection of human rights in the society. he further stressed the organization’s aim of increasing the pace of justice delivery through access to justice, digital technology and citizens’ engagement.

Against the backdrop of EndSARS, the organization is training law enforcement officers and has also created an avenue to give due recognition and award to patriotic officers particularly those who have displayed excellence and utmost professionalism in the performance of their public duty to citizens and Nigeria as a country, which could be achieved through a public nomination and a fact-finding background check.

According to the organisation, officers who have exhibited professional conducts worthy of praise and recognition in the eyes of the public are thereafter rewarded along with an award for excellence.

“This initiative seeks to encourage and motivate officers who have shown exemplary behaviour in the line of duty while also believing that same recognition will spur other officers to exemplify good behaviour in furtherance of their public duty regardless of location knowing that citizens are watching,” said Taiwo Makanjuola, communications associate, Citizens’ Gavel.

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