The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) foundation on Thursday held a public presentation of a book which seeks to highlight the effect of bad policing on Nigerians.
The book titled, “Groaning in Pains, The Effect of Bad Policing on Nigerians”, is part of a NOPRIN project, with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), titled: Promoting Police accountability and respect for human rights and enhancing access to justice for victims through periodic State by State documentation and publicizing of cases.”
Speaking shortly before the presentation of the book, the National Coordinator, NOPRIN Foundation, Mr. Ikule Emmanuel noted that the book was a collection of the activities carried out by the foundation, from the state to state documentations to the press releases to the trainings.
Ikule stated that the objectives of the project were to assist helpless victims of human rights abuses by the Police to gain access to redress such abuses as well as to increase the capacity of the oversight agencies to discharge their functions more timely and effectively.
Giving the background to the project that birthed the new book, he observed that project actually started in the year 2018 saying that through the programme, they were able to work through member organizations which were domiciled in all the states of the federation.
According to him, “Through our members, we could be able to collect data on Police abuses, Police brutality. This project, actually, with the support from OSIWA, we were able to work through our member organizations to document all these cases in all the states and during this time, we were able to document about 94 cases. That was before the Covid-19 period and during the Covid-19 period, just within three months, from March to June, we were still able to document about 90 cases. That means during the Covid period, we were able to document cases equivalent to about a year plus cases. That made us to realize that Covid period, only threw light on what was already existing even by the law enforcement agents and the level of extortion and all these human right abuses was actually on the increase.
“And from our own part, we documented these cases and at one time or the other, we also had press conferences that actually brought to light these cases. We did the other one which was on sexual violence by law enforcement agents. There was a certain time we got a report that even those that are being detained in Police cells, some of them are actually being abused sexually, some of these persons are being extorted while in detention among others. And then, early this year, there were constant cases of extra judicial killings and we had to do something about it but we still know our environment, has the cases reduced? No! The cases are still on the increase. That is why this programme is coming at this time to still make people be aware of these human rights violations.
“So, outside daily reports from our sources on ground in all the states, we were also able to document certain pictorials from some other persons that were being violated. We were also able to, outside press releases, in trying to reduce these cases; went further to petitioned about 50 cases on this particular project. Then I will probably say to us that at least, we have gotten feedback from states that have already started acting on these cases that we have petitioned. Niger state has responded, Benue state has responded, Lagos and Oyo states have responded. Just two days back, the Commissioner of Police FCT also called trying to address those cases that we have petitioned.
“So, it is a step in the right direction as it made us realize that if we were quiet, these things, it is not that they don’t hear or that they are not aware of them but when you push them, they are more reactive to these cases and that is why we try to reach out to them to do more.”
On his part, the Chairperson, Coordinating Committee, NOPRIN Foundation, Mr. Saviour Akpan pointed out that the project that led to this publication happened to be one of such herculean tasks by the network in recent times noting that with the generous support from OSIWA, the project was structured in such a way to have a daily monitoring of news reports on rights violations of citizens in Nigeria as may be reported by the mainstream and social media with verifiable facts and further amplify same towards making the perpetrators to understand that era of impunity was over.
Akpan maintained that doing this had helped in not only reducing such atrocities but had help in putting the system under check by building citizens resilience to lawfully resist impunity.
“With the effective use of social media platform which has made injustices meted by the police to the citizens a virile information across the globe coupled with reported actions taken by the authorities to address such incidences, one is proud to say that in Nigeria there is hope.
“It is the hope of NOPRIN that this publication will contribute in reawakening the consciousness of all stakeholders and the citizens on the need to take the lives and most especially the human rights of Nigerian citizens seriously by invoking the wheel of justice each time a citizen dies in circumstances that seems unnatural in the hands of those who are supposed to protect them”, he stated.
In a keynote address, Mikang Longjan of OSIWA stated that the book represented a scholarship that responded to the urgent policing need in Nigeria; a provocative effort that cast a different light on the understanding of the need for human rights monitors and investigations and an ingenious expose that elevates police abuse as a threat to human rights in the country.
Lonjan added that the ability of the organization to weave this compelling narrative was both profound and commendable.
“Anybody browsing through articles about recent trends in Nigeria will come across often-repeated topics of ‘police brutality and killings’ and ‘the lack of accountability within the police force’. These issues present challenges not only to the police force who must try to relieve, or prevent, the frictions and tensions generated by failure to adapt to rapid change but also the public’s negative perception of the police is compounded by the lack of information circulating in the country about the way the police works. Which is why OSIWA, partnered with NOPRIN Foundation by awarding a grant to them to promote police accountability and respect for Human Rights and enhancing access to justice for victims through periodic state by state documenting and publicizing of cases.
“This project documented, publicized cases, pushed for oversight from political authorities through sustained media advocacy to take action. At OSIWA, we believe effective accountability processes may make the police more publicly accountable. Therefore, through the gap created by state oversight agencies, NOPRIN Foundation has sought to fill the gap through this project by actively engaging with the police and police oversight agencies” he said.
While stating that book was quite accessible and should be a must-read for all Nigerians, police officers, judges, lawyers, students, academics and policy makers, he further averred that “the book will increase public awareness of police abuses and the means to seek redress. It will generate pressure and push oversight agencies to discharge their duties in a timely manner and more effectively.”
“Additionally, it will help in increasing the number of victims who can access justice and redress; all while more perpetrators will be brought to account. It will also help to increase citizens’ confidence in the administration of criminal justice and create deterrence for human rights violations by the police. NOPRIN Foundation has provided a constructive and comprehensive contribution to an ongoing debate. For this we are indebted”, Longjan further said.
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