A leading socio-cultural association of Igbo professionals under the aegis of Nzuko Umunna, has described as horrifying, frightening, and unutterable in a democracy, the shoot-at-sight-order the Inspector General Police, IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, handed to police officers in the South East.
The group, which addressed a world press conference in Abuja on Monday, noted that the IGP gave the directive in Enugu on May 18, when he launched Operation Restore Peace in the Southeast.
Insisting that adherence to such directive could lead to human right abuses and total breakdown of law and order in the region, the group, said it has notified the international community, particularly, the International Criminal Court, the United Nation Human Rights Council, as well as various High Commissions and Embassies in Nigeria.
While imploring the IGP to rescind “his unconstitutional and illegal orders”, Nzuko Umunna, in a statement that was signed by the Chairman of its Legal Committee, Dr Sam Amadi, urged the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to investigate and take proactive preventive actions to avert extrajudicial killings in the South East.
The statement, a copy of which was made available to journalists, read in part:
“According to multiple newspapers, television, and social media reports, the Inspector General, while launching Operation Restore Peace in Southeast in Enugu on May 18, 2021, declared thus:
“Don’t mind the media shout; do the job I command you. If anyone accuses you of human rights violations, the report will come to my table, and you know what I will do.
So, take the battle to them wherever they are and kill them all. Don’t wait for an order. “Don’t sit and wait for them to come; take the attack to them and don’t lose your arms to criminals”.
“We consider this statement horrifying, frightening, and unutterable in a democracy with entrenched constitutional rights to life and due process.
“We are more surprised that the head of the Nigerian Police will make such an outrageous statement authorizing state violence in a region that, for long, has been seething with anger at police brutality of whose youths have been extra-judicially killed by security agents in large numbers.
“This statement sends shivers down the spines of residents of the southeast because it suggests a declaration of war against them by the Nigerian state, and conjure images of gruesome murders as we saw during the infamous ‘Python Dance’ in the southeast.
“Already, there are credible reports of numerous extrajudicial killings of people in the southeast.
How many more will be killed if soldiers and police officers believe that there will be no accountability for all forms of impunity and atrocity in the southeast.
“We understand the exasperation of the government about the insecurity crisis in the country and the spate of attacks against law enforcement personnel and state security institutions, infrastructure, and assets.
“Nzuko Umunna fully supports efforts, in accordance with constitutional norms and global standards of law enforcement, to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians in the South East and elsewhere in Nigeria.
“We condemn in unmistakable language attacks against police officers and other law enforcement agents in the South East, the South-South, the South West, the North Central, the North East, and the North West.
We urge the Nigeria Police to painstakingly find out and prosecute those who are guilty of such nefarious and criminal actions against law and order, and to use all legitimate force to prevent such attacks.
“However, the painful loss of lives of men and officers under one’s watch is not a justification for an indiscriminate and vicious resort to state violence against Nigerian citizens in the South East by the head of the Nigerian police.
“Such reckless statement betrays a determination to punish Nigerian citizens in the region and deprive them of the due process protections under the constitution.
“By this press conference, we give the National Human Rights Commission notice to commence an investigation of the statement of Inspector General of Police and take proactive preventive actions to avert extrajudicial killings in the South East.
“We also serve notice to the international community, particularly, the International Criminal Court and the United Nation Human Rights Council and the various High Commissions and Embassies in Nigeria, of a policy of state violence against Nigerian citizens in South East who are mostly Igbos.
“These authorities should take proactive actions to avert what is clearly a policy of state violence against some Nigerians by the Nigerian security institutions”, the statement added.