Stakeholders have called for a total overhaul of security architecture in the South-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria, saying that the dysfunctional security infrastructure is the major driver of insecurity and gross violation of human rights in the zone.
The call was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day policy, stakeholders’ dialogue on security and justice in the South-East, organised by the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), held in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
Themed ‘Tackling the root causes of insecurity and injustice,’ the stakeholders also called on police authorities to restore trust between the police and society, ensure that police officers act in accordance with the law and professional standards, treat citizens with dignity in order to improve their relationship with citizens and invite public support and partnership.
While vehemently condemning the killing of security operatives and attacks on security formations and government installations in the region, participants called on security agencies in the South-East to stop mass arrests, mass burning of people’s property, illegal arrests and willful tagging of innocent citizens as IPOB/ESN members just to exploit them.
The participants called on security agencies in the SE to avoid going outside the law to enforce the law, through their resort to committing human rights violations in order to maintain control.
“Law enforcement agents cannot behave like the hoodlums they are expected to combat. Human rights violations arising from such unprofessional conducts add more pain and sorrow to the victims of insecurity in affected communities,” the group said.
They called on the Federal Government to remove the age barriers when recruiting new officers, as this will help them recruit capable officers, who will help in the fight against insecurity and human rights violations.
The stakeholders also called for a review of the implementation of NPF’s community policing policy in some communities.
“This is because the Community Policing Officers and Special Constables are poorly regulated and are now being used by some community leaders to attack perceived enemies in communities.”
The participants called on politicians and people in government to stop their sponsorship and patronage of cultists, as these same cultists they use will usually turn around to become monsters to hunt them
The stakeholders in the communique also called for the reconstitution of human rights committees, chaired by the highest ranking officers in various security formations in the South-East.
The senior officer according to them should periodically meet with stakeholders to discuss the operation of officers as it concerns human rights in the formation, noting that this will help mitigate the issues of human rights violations in various parts of the South-East.
They tasked civil society organisations to intervene by helping to strengthen the operational and ethical codes of security agencies.
“There should be some major forms of advocacy, highlighting the issue of criminal liability for officers, who violate human rights in the course of their duty. Efforts should not also be spared in the issue of civil liability. There is need to begin to push that every obstruction to such powers be removed,” they also said.