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Assess mental health of officers or be sued, CSO tells Nigeria Police

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CITIZENS’ Gavel, a civil society group and civic tech organisation improving the pace of justice delivery through technology, has urged the Nigeria Police to conduct a mental health assessment for all its officers across the country “or face legal action”.

The reason for this call, the group said in a press statement released on Friday and signed by its team lead, Nelson Olaonipekun, is “to remove the bad heads from the system” and “prevent anarchy in Nigeria”.

Gavel, in the statement made available to The ICIR, lamented the spate of police brutality and unlawful killings of citizens, citing the case of Kolade Johnson who was shot dead in March by an operative of the Special Anti-Cultism Squad (SACS) in Lagos.

“We have painfully observed that those who are meant to protect the Nigerian citizens are rather killing them. With the increase in police brutality, police extortion and extra judicial killings across Nigeria, we cannot afford to keep waiting until the next incident happens before action is taken,” the statement said.

“We need to be proactive and stop sacrificing the lives of promising Nigerians on the altar of system inefficiency and lack of accountability.

“After the unfortunate death of Kolade Johnson in Lagos, several other persons have died in similar manner, and this has left citizens to wonder who will be the next victim? Before, incidences of brutality, extortion and extra judicial killings were on a weekly basis.

“But recently, it is being experienced almost on a daily basis. While we commend the obvious efforts of the Acting Inspector General of Police in trying to fix the system, it is seeming that the lack of discipline is long entrenched in the veins of police personnel and this begs for an urgent need for a massive overhaul of the system.

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“In cases of emergency, do we now have to choose between a deep blue sea and a police officer with a rifle? It is high time that the leadership of the police began a mental assessment and other forms of relevant assessment to remove the bad heads from the system.”

Gavel further said the directive that police unit heads must be held accountable should be implemented immediately as they are in the best position to answer for the actions and inaction of officers under their supervision.

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