Prominent Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), condemned the human rights abuses perpetrated by the military and police.
Mr. Falana made these comments on Channels TV’s morning show, Sunrise Daily, when asked about the government’s response to the herdsmen attacks.
He derided President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent call on the military to maintain law and order in the country and “deal decisively” with the herdsmen, saying that such a directive is unconstitutional.
The military, Mr. Falana explained, does not have constitutional authority to govern the internal affairs of Nigeria and is tasked only with protecting the country from external threats.
“It has to be understood…that the military, as an institution, has no business whatsoever in the maintenance of internal security in our country.
“It is very illegal and unconstitutional for the Chief of Army Staff...to be threatening civilians in our country. We are not under a military dictatorship,” Mr. Falana said.
Mr. Falana also lambasted the military for its hypocrisy in the wake of the Zaria killings.
“A lot of hypocrisy is going on. We are simply isolating the killings by herdsmen…I am troubled that the Nigerian army that killed and buried secretly the dead bodies of 347 people in December last year can have the temerity to be telling us and teaching us how to protect life and property in Enugu State.”
Mr. Falana then condemned the police for “killing people randomly” and extra-judicially without being held accountable.
He added that it is unconstitutional for several branches of the federal police, including the customs and civil defense forces, to bear arms. According to the constitution, only one police force in Nigeria may bear arms.
Mr. Falana further slammed the police force for its wastefulness and for providing more protection for the wealthy and powerful than ordinary Nigerian citizens.
“The members of the ruling class and those that govern the country are temporarily protected. For instance, we used to have about 300 mobile police assigned to governors. I think the number has been reduced to 162 per governor.
“The rest of us can be at risk. And that is why Nigerians need to begin asking questions… particularly from this government that has undertaken to fight impunity in our country.”