A group of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Nigeria on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to respect the rule of law and ensure the security forces under his command do same.
The coalition which includes Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP), Falana Falana Chambers, Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL) among 43 others told the President to check comments capable of promoting extrajudicial killings in the country.
The group stated that despite his title as Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Buhari is constitutionally bound to obey, and ensure that the apparatus of the state under his command comply with, and uphold the rule of law.
Buhari had directed, last Saturday 17th August, 175 officers of the 17th Army Brigade and Nigerian Air Force 213 Operational Base in Katsina State to identify, pursue and ‘eliminate any bandit’ terrorising the country.
The president was condemned to have also made a similar comment in February, prior to the 2019 poll when he asked the military and Police to be ruthless against ‘ballot box snatchers’. Though, supported by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the comment attracted public criticism and was perceived as a form of anarchism.
The coalition, however, noted that “No person is above the law and no one is below it; nor do we ask any person’s permission when we require them to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favour.”
The group stressed that the security operatives including the military could exercise their functions against criminals and still respects the rule of law, especially the fundamental human rights.
The statement reads: “This week, Nigerians received the bewildering news of President Buhari’s order to the 175 officers of the 17th Army Brigade and Nigerian Air Force 213 Operational Base in Katsina state to identify and ‘eliminate any bandit’. This strongly suggests the extrajudicial elimination of suspects. Also contained in the official press statement about the occasion at which the President had made this statement, he was further quoted as telling them. ‘We will give you all the right equipment so that you can deal with them with dispatch. I appreciate all your efforts, but you can do more. I don’t want any bandit spared”.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time President Buhari would order the extrajudicial killing of suspects of crime by security forces. It will be recalled that he had issued a similar directive at the cusp of the 2019 elections, ordering the summary execution of “ballot box snatchers” and that his comments most, unfortunately, contributed to the inordinate recourse to violence by some security agents in the discharge of their duties.”
Citing the recent Taraba incident where persons were murdered, the coalition emphasised on the increasing trend of extrajudicial killings and violations of human rights.
“For quite some times, there have been many allegations of rogue security officers working with criminal elements – terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and cult gangs, to perpetuate their reign of terror. This brings into question the recruitment process for security forces and the need for a more meticulous check of their background and past records to ensure criminals are not recruited into our security agencies.
“Finally, we wish to place on record that not all our security agents are rogue elements. We salute the courage and gallantry of the core of our security agents who have continued to uphold our peace and unity in extremely difficult circumstances, and sometimes under extreme provocation.” It stated.
Here is a complete list of the coalitions.
- Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)
- Centre for Democratic Research and Training (CRDDERT)
- Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)
- Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre)
- Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL)
- Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
- Partners for West Africa – Nigeria
- Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)
- Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP)
- Falana Falana Chambers
- International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)
- Zero-Corruption Coalition (ZCC)
- Accountability Maternal New-born and Child Health in Nigeria (AMHiN)
- Partners on Electoral Reform
- State of the Union (SOTU)
- African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
- National Procurement Watch Platform
- Say NO Campaign—Nigeria
- Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civil Education (CHRICED)
- Social Action
- International Press Centre
- Community Action for Popular Participation
- Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP)
- Global Rights
- Project Alert
- Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
- Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE)
- Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA)
- Tax Justice Nigeria
- Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
- Women In Nigeria
- African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD)
- Centre for Social Justice
- Protest to Power
- Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN Foundation)
- Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC)
- Education As a Vaccine Against Women
- Baobab for Women’s Human Rights
- Nigerian Feminist Forum
- Alliances for Africa
- Space for Change
- CLEEN Foundation