“IN THE EYES OF SOME CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS, WHEN A POLICEMAN KILLS AN ARMED ROBBER IN A SHOOTOUT, IT BECOMES AN EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLING, BUT IF IT IS THE OTHER WAY ROUND, IT IS NOT THE BUSINESS OF THESE CSOS AND NGOS IN NIGERIA. SIMILARLY, IF IN A COMBAT, THE MILITARY KILL BOKO HARAM TERRORISTS IN SAMBISA FOREST FOR INSTANCE, IT MAY CONSTITUTE EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLING TO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, BUT IF MILITARY MEN ARE FELLED IN SCORES BY THE TERRORISTS, AMNESTY MAY NOT SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT”—ANONYMOUS
In the run-up to the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari [PMB] suffered a lot of malicious attacks on his person from many quarters, particularly from sponsored print and electronic media. The aim of the attacks was to portray him in bad in light, with a view to positioning the opposition party for victory at the polls.
Eventually, the intention of the propaganda against PMB was not achieved, but many Nigerian youths were significantly deceived into believing some of the trash from these media outfits. The interview PMB granted ALJAZEERA network on October 16, 2015, at about 8.30 pm; highlighted traces of desperate media attempt at finding public office holder guilty. The anchor of the programme, UPFRONT, Mehdi Hasan, talked about alleged extra-judicial killings in the fight against terrorists in Nigeria as if it took place under PMB’s watch. In truth, the 2013 to 2014, amnesty international report of alleged extra-judicial killings in Nigeria which Mehdi Hasan alluded to, falls outside PMB-led administration era, but he failed to mention this fact for a better perspective on the issue.
While addressing the press on Wednesday, September 5, 2007, to mark his hundred days in office as the Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro, told Nigerians of how the police under his watch engaged in shootouts with dare devil robbers. He explained that in the period under review, police killed 785 robbers, in face to face combat, while the robbers fell 62 policemen, in retaliation. After the press conference, some Civil Society Groups went to town alleging that police under Sir Okiro’s watch committed extra-judicial killings. A media establishment even wrote editorial, saying: If Okiro could kill 785 robbers in one month, in four  years the police would have killed a lot of Nigerians.
The danger in attacks without boundary is the tendency to pull down institutional roofs just because one person is being targeted for destruction. For instance, in attacking Sir Mike Okiro over his hundred days in office address on the series of battle his men had with armed robbers across Nigeria, his attackers forgot the psychological impact of their negative statements on the moral of policemen viz-a-viz their fight against robbers. Just recently, dare devil robbers invaded a bank in Lagos State where they shot and killed some people. Instances of where robbers killed and maimed Nigerians abound all over Nigeria. Are the CSOs now implying that should this scenario occurs anywhere in Nigeria, the police must not confront the robbers? Why should that Okiro’s comment on robbers be equated to extra-judicial killings, when in actual fact, these CSOs are aware that cases of Police shootout with armed robbers, with casualties on both sides abound all over the country? The report in Vanguard newspaper of September 29, 2015, where, the Inspector General of Police [IGP], Solomon Arase, laminated on the killing of about 435 policemen by robbers in Nigeria, within a space of six months, is instructive here. It has proved beyond doubt that there is constant armed confrontation between the police and robbers arising from the need to protect the lives and property of Nigerians, a mandate the Nigerian law assigned to the police. It is however safe to say that police and robbers combat is a fact notwithstanding the IGP in office. In this regard, the only difference between Okiro’s era as IGP and others is record keeping. It is not out of place to conclude that, if IGP Arase had disclosed the number of robbers that fell to police fire power in the period under review, these hypocritical CSOs and NGOs would have shouted extra-judicial killings!
In 2013, about hundred  policemen and ten DSS men were killed in Nasarawa State, and no Civil Society Group and Non-Governmental Organizations [NGOs] said anything about the killings; probably because no civilian militia was killed in the confrontation with policemen. The interpretation of police effort at protecting members of the society from the menace of arm robbers, from the point of view of some Civil Society Organizations is that, in any armed confrontation between the police and the robbers; only policemen should be killed, otherwise, police will be committing extra-judicial killings in the eyes of these CSOs and NGOs in Nigeria. Just like every Nigerian, a policeman has love ones and family he caters for, and if any of them dies in the course of protecting lives and property of the citizens, Nigerians, particularly, the CSOs should feel sorry for their family because they too, are Nigerians. If the then Sir Mike Okiro- led police could be accused of extra-judicial killings because he, Okiro commented that police killed armed robbers in shootouts across the country, an allegation some information dissemination outfits have come to project as true; what then is the worth of a policeman’s life and indeed, the lives of other security agencies personnel in Nigeria?
While highlighting tenures of Nigeria’s IGPs on October 9, 2015, the Leadership newspaper, in analyzing Okiro’s era as IG, portrayed it in negative light, probably in terms of achievements in office, but failed to mention, for purpose of balancing, that it was under Okiro as IGP that significant increase in the take-home pay of policemen was achieved in Nigeria, among other achievements. The report also failed to explain the context in which Okiro made the comment about the battle between his men and robbers. If informed Nigerians could believe this act of deceit by those who should know better, it portrays a sad conviction that police are beast of burden. September 8, 2015, the General Buratai led- military found itself in the situation Sir Mike Okiro led police found itself during Okiro’s tenure; when a particular CSO accused the military of extra-judicial killings and Human rights abuses in its fight against Boko Haram. What the CSO was probably telling the military was that should the Boko Haram terrorists engage the military in a shootout in the Sambisa forest, for instance, the military must never retaliate; otherwise, they will be committing extra-judicial killings by so doing.
In as much as the lives of Nigeria policemen are concerned, it is not worth anything as far as some of the CSOs and NGOs in Nigeria are concerned. Research has shown that most of the CSOs and NGOs that are in the habit of attacking the Police and Military institutions on human rights abuses are doing so because of promise of foreign grants. In some cases, these NGOs and CSOs are sponsored by powerful interests for political reasons. They get sponsorship to pull down a particular head of an agency or establishment from his position.
The continuous allegation of extra-judicial killings against men and officers of Nigeria police and the Military authorities by sponsored CSOs and NGOs has shown that these civil society groups do not believe that the lives of security agencies personnel Nigeria is worth anything. In-fact, as far as they, the NGOs are concerned, the personnel of Nigerian security agencies must be seen as canon-folders that should be discarded at will.
Written by Emeka Oraetoka, Information Management Expert & Researcher.