Fifteen years after the end of military rule in Nigeria, the brutal techniques long employed by law enforcement agencies have not abated, a recent incident at the scene of a court ordered execution at No. 8, Adegoke Street, Surulere, Lagos State, illustrates a deeply embedded culture of violence, draconian control and oppression by the Nigerian Police Force against hapless citizens.
Human rights abuse by the police is a phenomenon that is disturbing and worrisome to Nigerians, This has left many citizens dead, injured physically, mentally or psychologically as they go through these experiences in the hands of those whose responsibility is to protect them.
A Sheriff of the High Court of Lagos State and two Lawyers, on Friday the 23rd May, 2014, became victims of police lawlessness as they were publicly beaten up, arrested and detained like common criminals by the police while executing a valid judgment of the High Court of Lagos State delivered by Honourable Justice Oyefeso. Our findings revealed that it took ten years of arduous litigation for the victorious party to get this judgment. Alas ! the fruit of this long awaited judgment was however snatched by armed policemen, led by the DPO of Hogan Bassey Police Station Surulere Lagos and the officer in charge of operations; Bode Thomas Police station, both acting on the orders of Deputy Commissioner of Police Lagos State; Tunde Sobulo to diminish the stature of the judiciary.
According to available reports, the evictee boasted that the Deputy Commissioner of Police Lagos State; Tunde Sobulo is her brother and she would make him stop the execution exercise and deal severely with the court Sheriff. This threat was adequately carried out by the DPO of Hogan Bassey Police Station Surulere, Lagos and the officer in charge of operations; Bode Thomas Police station.
In the ensuing encounter, a female officer attached to the Sheriff for the execution exercise got an unhealthy dose of the degrading treatment, as she was assaulted and almost battered by the DPO of Hogan Bassey Police Station Surulere Lagos in the full glare of the public.
The obstruction and stoppage of a court ordered execution, which in effect renders the judgment of a court nugatory portends very dangerous precedents for the society. It is a call to anarchy! The President, Inspector General of Police and the police service commission must take concrete steps to show they are serious about eradicating police excesses and disregard for human rights in Nigeria. Ending police abuses and implementing meaningful reform must be approached with all seriousness that it deserves.
Thorough and independent investigations of all allegations of police abuses, lawlessness and brutality must be conducted and steps taken to ensure criminal prosecution of the perpetrators and justice for the victims.