Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Imohimi Edgal promied that the command will no longer cover up cases of abuse or violation of human rights levelled against its officers.
Mr. Edgal made the promise at a joint press conference with the Ikeja branch of the Nigeria Bar Association, (NBA).
The press conference was held in place of a procession planned for today by the lawyers to protest against increasing incidents of abuse and gross violation of human rights of citizens by police officers.
Speaking at the press confrence, Chairman of NBA, Ikeja, Barrister Adesina Ogunlana, said the cancelled protest was planned to beam a searhlight on nefarious activities of some police officers and not to scandalise the law enforcement agency.
He stated, “The protest is not only because a member of NBA Ikeja branch was assaulted. The CP has worked so well but many citizens have witnessed brutality and oppression by cadres of the police on the road, bail is not actually free in the police stations, a lot of extortionate demands are made upon our people and they are always harassed by the police. We want to encourage our people to always come to our human rights and office of the commissioner of police to make reports against infringements by some officials.”
He stressed that for any police organisation to be trusted, loved and appreciated by the populace; it must deliver on its service to the people.
The NBA chairman added that the greatest resource of the police is not the gadgetry or the weaponry but human intelligence which can only be got when people trust the police.
But the Lagos Police chief who said he was not against the planned protest urged the lawyers to always engage with leadership of the police whenever they have complaints against officers of the law enforcement agency.
He also assured the lawyers that the team of police officers who harassed one of the lawyers who is a member of Ikeja NBA are currently undergoing trial.
He said, “I was not against the protest, what I was against was the nature of the protest, I concede it’s your right to protest and draw the attention of the police to where we are failing and partner on how to make it better.”
“I have never spared my men whenever they are reported for any form of misconduct or disciplinary matters. Rallies should not be the first course of action, we should determine who did what, who went wrong and ensure that they are disciplined,” he added.
Mr Edgal also called on Nigerians to always report cases of abuse involving the police promptly to the appropriate authorities. He stressed that the Police would continue to operate professionally and be guided by the law.
“I have told Lagosians to report any officer to who asked for bribe. I call on Lagosians generally to continue to report the misconduct of policemen especially as it related to unprofessionalism, corrupt practices or refusal to respond to distress," Mr Edgal concluded.
Speaking to SaharaReporters, Barrister Adesina asserted that the NBA would still send petitions to the governor of Lagos state, speaker of the state house of assembly, Inspector General of Police and seek legal redress over its member who was harassed.
“We would wait whether there is going to be an improvement of police-citizens interaction. It’s a matter of date and time, we would soon know. Every situation and circumstance would dictate the way and manner of our response but one thing is NBA Ikeja branch would respond to breaches of fundamental rights of the people whether by the people or other governmental agency.”