About 24 civil society organisations and coalitions across Nigeria have hailed the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Adamu Mohammed, for disbanding of satellite offices and bases of the Intelligence Response Squad and Special Tactical Squad of the Nigeria Police.
Adamu had last week ordered the disbanding of the formations as part of moves by the Force Headquarters to reposition the security organisation for greater accountability.
The groups in a joint statement said the excesses of the disbanded formations were so menacing that senior police officers, including DPOs, Area Commanders and Commissioners of Police could not control them.
They said Nigerians were 20 times more likely to be killed by police officers than by a terrorist.
The statement reads, “We commend and welcome the decision of IGP Adamu Mohammed to disband the satellite offices and bases of the IRT and STS; and we believe his decision was in response to the numerous complaints and public outcry concerning the notoriety of the operatives of these units who regularly engage in human rights violations, brutality, violence, corruption and abuse. The operatives took advantage of the attachment of ‘Inspector general of Police’ to their names to commit crimes and abuses in the name of the IGP; they conducted themselves in the most appallingly unprofessional ways, placed themselves above the law and were unaccountable in their operations.
“Their excesses were so menacing that even senior police officers, including DPOs, Area Commanders and Commissioners of Police could not control them. They became so unbearably lawless that senior officers in states complained.
“We are not unmindful of the operational exploits of the IRT in particular, under commander DCP Abba Kyari, in arresting some high-profile kidnap suspects and successfully setting free some kidnap victims. However, many of the operatives recklessly engaged in excesses and atrocities - ranging from abductions, detention, torture and extortion of huge sums of money from targeted victims and illegally confiscated and converted money and properties recovered or belonging to many of the persons they arrested for their personal use.
“Some of our organisations intervened in some cases and our findings were that many of the victims were innocent of the crimes for which they were abducted, maltreated and extorted of huge sums of money. In fact, the operatives exploited and turned their call to combat crime into an opportunity to commit crime by harassing, intimidating, maltreating and extorting huge funds from victims most of whom were framed with false accusations.
“We call on the IGP to further ensure that numerous allegations and complaints against particular operatives contained in several pending petitions by several organisations and individuals and in reports by notable organizations such as Amnesty International, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, among others are investigated and officers responsible for abuse, corruption and misconduct brought to account.”
The group said despite losing 82 Nigerians and several others to extra-judicial killings, abductions, indiscriminate harassment and arrests amidst other unprofessional conducts of police officers, not a single officer attached to SARS, SACS, SAKS, STS, ZIS, IRT and other units had been brought to book.
“We call on the IGP to, in addition to the disbandment of the satellite offices of the IRT and STS, order investigations into the various cases and allegation of unlawful detention, extortion, torture and other egregious abuses committed by any of the personnel of the units across the states
“We call for a review of all cases handled by the IRT and STS and an audit of all the funds and properties confiscated by them either as exhibits or illegally confiscated properties and determine to what extent some or all of these were converted to personal use by the operatives. They must be retrieved and returned to their owners,” the statement added.