*Urges Governors to end moratorium on death penalties; demand for police accountability.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, an advocate for human rights, justice, and the rule of law, has commended the recent verdict delivered by the Lagos High Court in the case of the dismissed police officer who unlawfully killed Mrs. Omobolanle Raheem.
In a statement by the National Coordinator, HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and made available to NIM, the Association said the verdict – sentencing the officer to death by hanging, demonstrated the importance of upholding justice, particularly in cases of police brutality and gender-based violence.
HURIWA said “while the court’s decision is a significant step towards addressing issues of police misconduct, it is imperative that we continue our pursuit of justice and accountability in the Nigerian law enforcement system”.
The group noted that the death penalty remained a lawful form of punishment, and urged state Governors to end the moratorium on carrying out such penalties, particularly when suspects have exhausted their rights of appeal.
“Cases of police brutality and extrajudicial executions, such as the one reported in the aforementioned story, should face capital charges when appropriate, and if found guilty, the culprits should be executed. We cannot allow law enforcement officers to act with impunity, violating the rights and lives of fellow citizens” it added.
Huriwa stressed the need for regular visits of police detention centers by state attorneys general, chief judges, and civil rights organizations, saying that it would help ascertain the conditions and positions of detainees, preventing any form of abuse or unlawful detention.
The rights group called on the Federal Attorney General to publicize and implement a quick-win blueprint to decongest the cells of awaiting trial inmates.
HURIWA pointed out that Democracy is weakened when the police continue to kill and unjustly detain citizens, many of whom are arbitrarily arrested and detained because they cannot afford their freedom, and advocated that the police detention centers should be cleared of innocent detainees.
While saying that the current police service commission appeared to lack the independence and efficiency required to provide effectively supervise the force and discipline indicted officers, the Association stated that a fundamental overhaul of the police service commission is required, to enable it effectively address misconduct within the force.
HURIWA also called for the establishment of a ballistic laboratory to probe cases of extrajudicial execution, as such would provide the necessary tools to uncover the truth and hold perpetrators accountable.
“The decision to appoint former IGP as Chairman of the police service commission hinders the progress towards a disciplined police force. We need to demonstrate Nigeria’s readiness to reform the police and ensure it serves and protects the citizens”.
HURIWA expressed readiness to work with all stakeholders, including the government, to ensure that the rights of all Nigerians are upheld and that justice prevails, and reaffirmed its belief in the power of accountability and the protection of human rights as essential elements of a just and democratic society.