IGP Denies Backing Rights Violation By Police Officers As NHRC Governing Council Begins Retreat

Nearly 20 days after the National Human Rights Commission faulted the Nigeria Police Force for reportedly detaining a Nigerian lady for “over 67 days”, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, said his men have always been urged to align themselves with constitutional provisions when carrying out their duties.

He made the comment on Monday at the NHRC 5th Governing Council Members Retreat which held at the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Airport Road, Abuja.

Recall that the NHRC’s independent panel investigating allegations of rights violations by officers of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units had on several occasions frowned at officers’ refusal to appear before it to respond to petitions against them.

Alkali, who was represented at the retreat by DIG Joseph Obiajulu, said police personnel were aware of his position on rights abuses.

“It is with this in mind that the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Baba Alkali, , has made Human Rights the focal point of his administration. The IGP has publicly and privately tasked Police Personnel to be professional in their conduct and has urged them to be professional in handling criminals, adding that suspects and convicted criminals are entitled to human rights, and that human rights should be considered during and after arrests,” Obiajulu said.

He said the police force instils on its officers, high sense of professionalism and respect for and protection of Human Rights through periodic lectures and trainings by heads of Formations, Commands, Units, Sections and Divisions.

He urged the Commission to continue to sensitize police officers across the country as it had been doing.

“I enjoin the Commission to continue to do so and to do more to engage the Nigeria Police Force and other relevant stakeholders through these types of programmes,” he said.

On his part, the NHRC Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu Esq, said the retreat was a platform for stakeholders to brainstorm on better ways to pursue the human rights goals of the commission.

Ojukwu added that “it became necessary to organize this retreat to midwife a smooth take off of the new Governing council.”

He urged every participant to proffer solutions on key issues like “structure and strategy, institutional and procedural framework, performance improvement and reforms, human rights promotion and agenda setting” that improve the impact of NHRC in the years ahead.

For the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Justice, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Michael Bamidele Opeyemi, he noted that despite numerous human rights challenges in the country, the commission has kept to “standards and good practices” over the years.

He revealed that the National Assembly was reviewing the constitution so as to capture some of the NHRC’s ultimate objective.

“The National Assembly is also taking steps to amend the constitution with regard to incorporating the Commission as a constitutional body. It is hoped that when all these initiatives are concluded, the Commission will be further entrenched and strengthened legally to fulfil its enabling mandate,” Opeyemi added.

In her opening remarks, Chairperson, NHRC Council, Dr. Salamatu H. Suleiman, praised the initiative as a thoughtful one especially when new members were coming on board.

“I believe with the cooperation of all parties, the Commission will fulfil its mandate which is to promote and protect the human rights of Nigerians,” she said.

The first day of the retreat was attended by representatives of the armed forces, NHRC members of staff, Administrator of the NJI, Retd Justice Salisu Garba and others.

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