Don’t kill ‘ballots box snatchers’: HURIWA warns security forces;


*Carpets Police over curfew:

As millions of Nigerian voters step out tomorrow February 25th 2023 to partake in the most significant presidential election since 1960’s, the operatives of the security forces especially the Army, Police and Department of State Services (DSS) have been cautioned not to commit extralegal execution of citizens including even those in conflict with the law who are not direct threats to their lives.

Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) said it was concerned about trending videos on the social media in which soldiers were threatening to kill snatchers of ballot boxes during the poll.

HURIWA said it is unlawful, unconstitutional and a crime against humanity for security forces to disregard their rules of engagements governing all Internal Security Operations and go ahead in trigger happy episodes of extrajudicial killings of Nigerians on the election as a demonstration of the so-called show of strength. HURIWA said Section 33(1) of the 1999 constitution makes Right to life sacrosanct and prohibits unlawful execution of offenders absolutely unless authorised by Courts of law.

Besides, HURIWA blasted the Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba for infringing on the constitutional fundamental Human Rights of freedom of movement of citizens by unilaterally imposing ban to all movements of vehicles during the election when the office of the IGP is not a legislative chamber in line with section 4 of the constitution charged with law making.

HURIWA affirmed that only the legislature has the Constitutional powers even during National emergencies to pass a legislation abridging the freedom of movement but the police being an enforcement agency falls under section 5 which is the executive arm of government.

Following the practice by almost all holders of the iffice of Police Inspector General, the Rights group said it will soon challenge this persistent violation of the constitution by different IGPS during elections over the years in the Court of law. “We may very well need to test the waters in the court of competent jurisdiction to ascertain why the IGPs of all epochs have consistently taken the law into their hands and churned out illegal limitations to the enjoyment of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement.

HURIWA pointed to section 4 of the Constitution which affirms that; “section 4 (1) The legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives”. It therefore wonders why this executive rascality has continued without anybody or authority restraining the IGPs from this infraction.

On the threats by some lawless Soldiers to kill at will those political thugs who would snatch ballots boxes, HURIWA warned them that illegal killings of Nigerians even those in conflict with the law and do not constitute mortal threats to the lives of the security agents, will be challenged before the International Criminal Court in the Hague Netherlands just as it warned Service Chiefs to ensure that their operatives comply absolutely with the clearly stated rules of engagement.

HURIWA cited Section 217 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution and Section (8) (1) and (3) of the Armed Forces Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (LFN) 2004 which copiously provide code of conduct and rules of engagement for the armed forces in internal security.

HURIWA argued that: “For instance, no officer or soldier must be found aiding or abetting any act of arson, vandalism or unprofessional conduct; and troops are duty bound to intervene in any situation to avoid a breakdown in peace, stability or law and order of an area where they are deployed.”

It affirmed that Section 217 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that Nigeria’s armed forces shall suppress insurrection and act in aid of civil authority to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, Commander-in-Chief reinforced by Sect (8) (1) and (3) of the Armed Forces Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (LFN) 2004, it stressed that this presupposes that troops have to use necessary force to quell crisis resulting in deaths, injury and damages to properties.

• The principle of minimum force and proportionality must be applied at all times; whenever operational situation permits, every reasonable effort shall be made to control the situation through measures short of using force, including personal contact and negotiations; the use of lethal force shall only be resorted to if all other means to control the situation have failed or in case of unexpected attack or suspected Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack during which a delay could lead to loss of life or serious injury to personnel; and that any force applied must be limited in its intensity and duration; it must also be commensurate with the level of threat posed.

• Force shall be used only when absolutely necessary to achieve an immediate aim; the decision to open fire shall be made only on orders and under the control of on-scene commander, unless there is insufficient time to obtain such order. Fire can however be opened if the life of a soldier, any law-abiding member of the public and/or property of which it is our duty to protect is in grave danger; fire must be aimed and controlled. Indiscriminate firing is not permitted.

• Fire may be opened to forcefully stop any vehicle that fails to stop at a checkpoint or road block when ordered to stop for search; automatic fire will only be opened as a last resort; avoid collateral damage; after fire has ceased, render medical assistance and record details of incident both in writing and using audio/visual equipment whether or not casualty has been recorded; and whenever in doubt, seek clarification from higher headquarters.”

HURIWA stated that it is important to remind the service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police to be wary of the possibility that they may be dragged to the International Criminal Court for any election related unlawful killings and several other cases of unresolved unlawful killings by their rank and file during the multiple internal security operations taken place in Nigeeria simultaneously.