The Police is your friend. The Nigeria Police, I mean. Not the Police in other countries. Those other folks are surely not your friends because they have not loudly declared their friendship. The diligent Nigeria Policemen and women have dutifully declared their positions to you-in case you ever forget, that they are your friends.
So, like all your friends who chose your friendship without your participation in the friendship choosing exercise, your Police friends also come to you in diverse shapes, sizes, characters, etc. But two common streaks which most of them possess is the mindset of the “Know-it-all” and the “Tell it all”.
Hence, your friendly Police always seems to know it all and eagerly wants to tell you tales – whether you want to hear about it or not, especially when you don’t want to hear it.
So, it was that our true friend, the new Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Edgal Imohinmi held a Meeting on the 19th of September 2017, at the Lion Building Area A’ Command, Lagos, where he was reported to have issued the Directives numbered (1) – (6) hereunder to Policemen under his Command. Accordingly, I also declare that I am a true friend of the Police by commenting on his advice as follows:
- All Area Commanders in Lagos state are to liaise with various community leaders to form Non-Arms bearing Vigilante Group and 3 Armed Policemen will be attached to each Vigilante group for night duty patrol.
My Comment: The law does not permit someone to whom the law has delegated power to further delegate such power to another person. The maxim is ‘delegatus non potest delegare’. Hence, the Commissioner of Police, who section 4 of the Police Act, has been delegated powers to investigate crimes and apprehend offenders, lacks the power to further delegate Police duties to Vigilantes. Experience has shown that Vigilantes cannot be trusted. In many places, they have been responsible for kidnappings, murders and providing critical information to criminals. Therefore Vigilantes will not work.
- All uncompleted and abandoned buildings will be routinely raided pending when the State Government will take action on such Buildings. Likewise, no one is allowed to sleep in the Market henceforth.
My Comment: The decision to raid ALL uncompleted and abandoned buildings is highly objectionable. It is well known fact that many people are homeless in Lagos. Such people live either under the bridges or in uncompleted or abandoned buildings. Many are not criminals but mere victims of rural to urban migration and population expansion in the cities, with government’s no housing policy. So, for the Police to raid these hapless citizens to raid them in gestapo style, with no intention or even the capacity to sift the innocent from recidivists, if any, will be counterproductive.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police is humbly reminded of the national uproar which followed the midnight shooting and killing of 7 Squatters in an uncompleted building at Apo, Abuja sometime in 2013. Mr. Imohinmi should remember this, but in case he does not know, he has been reminded.
- The Police now have shoot-at-sight Order on any body found brandishing arms with intent to kill or maim.
My Comment: No law empowers the Police or anyone else to shoot any person at sight, irrespective of whether the person is armed with intent to kill or maim. Police Force Orders on the use of arms have not been amended. Principally, a Policeman can only shoot at anyone who is armed if, and only if, his life, another person’s life, or property is in imminent danger. By the way, how will policemen know that someone “intends to kill’ or ‘maim’. To my mind, this directive is just a form of conspiracy for trigger happy policemen to commit the murder of Nigerians. No policeman should shoot another person on the unlawful command of a superior. No. It is your bounden and patriotic duty to disobey such an unlawful order. If you foolishly obey an unlawful order and kill another person in an unjustifiable circumstance, know that your superior will not visit you in Prison. If you doubt me, go and ask the Policemen who killed the 6 Apo Traders who were returning from a Night Club in Abuja. The High Court convicted all the shooters, but freed the ones who gave the Orders to shoot, because any defence which is based on such an illegal order will fail the Purveyor.
- All DPOs and Area Commanders should make themselves available for citizens’ complains.
My Comment: Nothing new here.
- All Police Patrol Vans are now mobile Police Stations and citizens can lodge their complaints to them to save time and arrest such situations that need urgent Police presence.
My Comment: This is a no brainer.
- A Citizens’ Complaint Centre has been created to report any genuine complaint about the Police, and the new Commissioner of Police released 10 mobile numbers for the complaints Centre so that citizens can report any erring officers or Police stations.
My Comment: In a real emergency, panicky victims can hardly remember even their own or close relatives numbers. So, expecting people to remember one out of Ten 11digit) random numbers in any emergency is expecting almost the impossible. Even in advanced countries, Government provides only memorable 3 digit number like 911 for its citizens to remember and call free of charge 24/7 and help will come. Why can’t the Lagos Police Boss show us what a true friend he is by pioneering such an emergency toll free number in Lagos?
Finally, the police citizens’ complaint Centre where citizens are to complain against police officers, with respects, is akin to complaining about a robber to his gang. In a case where I assisted a client to complain about some policemen who sexually assaulted her, I got to see how police investigates other police. At the meeting between me, my client and the errant policemen, the Officer in Charge of the X Squad which investigated the complaint opened his remarks by telling us that “no policeman is a saint”. After that comment, I knew the outcome of the complaint had been prejudged. So, I had to look to the Courts of Law for Justice.
Perhaps, we can pioneer a UK style of Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) or an American style Internal Affairs (IA) to investigate citizens’ complaints against the Police. Boy, this will really show us how great our friendship with the Police is.
(Dele Igbinedion Esquire is the Principal Partner of Dele Igbinedion Chambers, Lagos, Abuja and Benin City. He can be contacted on Tel/WhatsApp 08059863558)
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