A non-governmental organization- Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria has condemned operatives of the Akwa Ibom State police command over their alleged high-handedness and use of live firearms which resulted in the killing of some protesting students of the University of Uyo.
In a media release jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National media Affairs Director, Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said operatives of the Nigerian police have serially failed to comply with the United Nations basic principles on the use of force and firearms during peaceful protest by the civil populace just as it urged for immediate remedial measures to be adopted to save more innocent lives.
The group, who bemoaned what it called “trigger happy” tendencies of armed police operatives to always empty their sophisticated weapons on peaceful protesters, demanded that the Federal Government through relevant agencies like the National Human Rights Commission and the Police Service Commission must train the police operative across board on strategies for complying with extant national and international principles on the use of force and firearmsby law enforcement officials.
It pointed out that the police operatives lacked the discipline to always exercise restraint in situations such as peaceful demonstrations by Nigerians and this serial official indiscretion by the police have resulted in the extra-legal killings of hundreds of Nigerians over the last 14 years.
“We are worried by the report filed in by Independent observers at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State venue of the students’ protests which pointed accusing fingers on the police operatives for escalating thepeaceful protest into a riot when some of the armed operatives allegedly shot and killed about five or so students.
“Nigeria must bring to an end these serial violations bypolice operatives of the fundamental right to life of innocent citizens through extra legal executions,” HURIWA, stated.
The group reminded police hierarchy of the United Nations basic principles on the use of force and fire arms by law enforcement officials as follows; “Rules and regulations on the use offirearms by law enforcementofficials should include guidelines that: specify the circumstances under which law enforcement officials are authorized to carry firearms and prescribe the types of firearms and ammunition permitted; ensure that firearms are used only in appropriate circumstances and in a manner likely to decrease the risk of unnecessary harm; prohibit the use of those firearms and ammunition that cause unwarranted injury or present an unwarranted risk; regulate the control, storage and issuing of firearms, including procedures for ensuring that law enforcement officials are accountable for the firearms and ammunition issued to them; provide for warnings to be given, if appropriate, when firearms are to be discharged; and provide for a system of reporting whenever law enforcement officials use firearms in the performance of their duty.”
It also canvassed for independent probe of the circumstances surrounding the death by road accident on the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene road of five national officials of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) on Thursday.
The NANS officials were on their way to Uyo to meditatein the discord between students and management of the Federal University of Uyo which snowballed into peaceful students’ protest.
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