Searing criticism and outright condemnation have trailed Saturday’s directive by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to policemen to use ‘all legitimate force’ against ‘riotous protesters’ in the country.
Adamu also ordered the deployment of ‘legitimate force’ to protect lives and properties of citizens, including police officers and personnel of other law enforcement agencies and their families.
This order contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Frank Mba.
The FPRO said the directive became necessary in order to prevent attacks on private/public assets from any violent person(s) or group(s) operating under any guise.
According to the statement, the IGP restated that the Commissioners of Police and their supervisory Assistant Inspectors-General of Police should resist all riotous elements forthwith and checkmate any form of violent/riotous protests in line with Section 33 (1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution.
The section, among other things, provides for the use of such force as is reasonably necessary: for the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property; in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.
The IGP said the Force would not tolerate a repeat of the ‘horrendous attacks’ and killings, arson and wanton destruction, and looting of public and private assets witnessed recently violent protests in some parts of the country. He warned that the Force shall deploy the full weight of the law and legitimate force, if necessary, in preventing a recurrence.
He assured the law-abiding citizens across the country of the police renewed and unwavering commitment to their safety and security, especially as the yuletide season approaches. He called for the collaboration and support of citizens in the ongoing reforms of the police.
It will be recalled that in the wake of the #EndSARS protests and the violence that emanated greeted the protest, leaving 22 policemen, 51 civilians killed and 37 injured and 205 police stations razed.
Exercise restraint in giving instructions, YCE cautions IGP
The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has cautioned the IGP Adamu to be mindful of giving out instructions to his officers in view of the current mood of the country.
Speaking to Sunday Tribune on Saturday, the Secretary General of YCE, Dr Kunle Olajide, expressed fear that the latest directive from the police boss would be abused by his men thereby causing unrest in the country.
“I have been a little bit uncomfortable with the IGP’s comments in recent times. It seems I have an idea that he allows his emotions to take a better part of him.
“In such high offices, there must be a lot of restraint when issuing commands and instructions because those who are to implement and execute the instructions you cannot predict how they will interpret them.
“I was quite uncomfortable when the IGP addressed his officers recently telling them to protect themselves that they are human beings and they have human rights too.
“Yes, they have rights but they have been trained, equipped with taxpayers money and their primary responsibility is to maintain law and order, prevent crisis and arrest criminals.
“They must exercise highest level of respect. The IGP must not say anything suggesting force for force because we believe that police is civil and they were even trained on ways to disarm criminals cleverly.
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“But when we begin to hear instructions from IGP telling them about legitimate force, which force is legitimate? How do you expect the recruit policeman handling weapons to interpret legitimacy? I think the IGP needs to exercise some restraint. That is my position,” Olajide said.
‘IGP’s directive, blank cheque for anarchy, mayhem’
A lawyer and head of the Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged (CENTREP), Oghenejabor Ikimi, described the directive as a call for anarchy and mayhem. Speaking to Sunday Tribune in Warri, Delta State, on Saturday, he said the IGP’s statement was not only reckless, but capable of sowing anarchy in the country.
The chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Warri branch, Emmanuel Uti, said the order should be taken literally.
According to him, “to use all legitimate force means within the confines of the law. It clearly shows that what they must be guided by the law.
“What is legitimate is legitimate, except we want to give it extra meaning. If they go outside the legitimate provisions of the law, then it’s no longer legitimate.”
IGP’s directive in order — Yakasai
Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, former Special Adviser on National Assembly matters to former president, late Alhaji Shehu Shagari, said the directive was in order given that the duty of the police is to protect the lives and property of citizenry.
He said the directive did not say Nigerians should not embark on peaceful protest, but was against the activities of hoodlums.
“What he said does not contradict peaceful #EndSARS protest. What the directive frowns at is anybody who will disturb the peaceful atmosphere of respective states or the country and cause anarchy,” he said.
Meanwhile, the police have been urged to sensitise Nigerians about their rights in relation with the order of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu.
Speaking with Sunday Tribune in Sokoto on Saturday, the District Head of Gagi, Alhaji Sani Umar Jabbi also known as Sarki Yaki Gagi, cautioned police not to take advantage of the directive to abuse human rights.
He urged them not to turn the situation to same way operatives of the recently dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) abused citizens.
“Our fear is that police will not use the opportunity to harass the citizens while implementing such order.
“The directive is alarming and I pray it won’t be abused by this people,” he said.
Don, ex-Plateau speaker chide IGP
A Professor of Political Economy, Haruna Dabin, has described the latest directive by the IGP as an invitation to lawlessness and opportunity for the bad eggs in the police to embark on illegal and illegitimate activities like the disbanded SARS.
Professor Dabin told Sunday Tribune in Jos that the word legitimate could be accepted, but quickly added that some undesirable elements within the police could give it another interpretation as a reason to maltreat innocent citizens.
“The word force is wrong and ill-advised. The directive at this material time is wrong, considering the recent protest against the operation of men of the disbanded SARS.
“It will not serve any useful purpose. The IGP should be careful about his choice of words in other not to aggravate the already bad situation at hand.
“The society is tensed up currently; people don’t have the feeling that they are being governed. The level of hunger is unprecedented. What the country is passing through is far deeper than meet the eye,” he said.
A former speaker Plateau State House of Assembly, Titus Alams, strongly condemned the directive, saying the IGP ought to have refrained from the use of the word force.
“Nigeria of today is quite different from that of yesterday. Approach to policing is dynamic and changing. Our policemen too must move along with the changing realities. In police reforms, proper education is very important. Without this, the police will continue to make the same mistakes,” he said.
Also speaking, a lawyer and the state chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Dele Ogunbameru, said legitimate force by the police is necessary to keep hoodlums that hijacked the #EndSARS protesters in check.
“It is the duty of the police to protect lives and properties of Nigerians. There are illegal arms in the hands of hoodlums and it will be normal for crime to increase, except reasonable level of civil legitimate force is put in place on time.