A human rights group, the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), has condemned the spate of attacks on activists and supporters of online new medium, SaharaReporters, at the premises of the Kwara State High Court, Ilorin.
SaharaReporters is currently involved in a legal tussle with the Senate President, Mr. Bukola Saraki, whose supporters have been attacking sympathizers of the news medium for exposing corruption-related activities of the Senate President.
CHRICED made its position known in a statement issued on Monday. Signed by Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, its Executive Director, the statement branded the attacks on activists as brutish and symptomatic of the government’s inability to be even-handed with all citizens, irrespective of status.
“The resort to violent intimidation of this hapless citizens is a sign that the other side does not have a sound legal foundation for its case, which is why it is quick to deploy brutish and sinister tactics,” CHRICED said.
It added that miscreants sponsored by the Senate President have become a fixture at court hearings and are allowed to misbehave by the Police, whose officers look away.
“This use of thugs to intimidate opposition could well be a rehearsal as 2019 general elections approach. It is shameful and most disappointing that the Nigerian state, apart from letting citizens down in the area of social justice, has not demonstrated the resolve to protect its citizens from the jungle antics from corrupt and powerful interests,” the group further stated.
It concluded that the development in Ilorin is a sign of irresponsibility and criminal dereliction of duty on the part of the Nigerian Police Force.
“It is our considered view that dodgy role of the Police in situations like what is playing out in Ilorin is responsible for the impunity with which high and low criminals commit dastard crimes against Nigeria and its people,” the group contended.
CHRICED noted that under the current Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim K Idris, the Police have tended to be lacking a clear strategy to arrest lawlessness in the country. It observed that the country is currently facing assault from a variety of sources that have predisposed the citizens to a miserable existence. Among these, said CHRICED is the menace of herdsmen, the threat of separatist agitation in the South-East, kidnapping, armed robbery and oil bunkering, which the Police have been unable to curtail. This, it explained, has necessitated the involvement of the military in policing, evidenced by Exercise Python Dance II by the Nigerian Army in the South-East.
On account of the huge resources that go into maintaining the Police, CHRICED called on the Federal Government to find innovative ways to get the Force to live up to its responsibility to the people, warning that if the violence against SaharaReporters is allowed to go unchecked, it will breed the cynical belief that might is right and that everyone can be beaten into line.