Civil society organisations in Bayelsa have condemned increasing incidence of human rights abuses by security operatives in the state against residents.
The groups, including the Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisations Forum, BANGOF, Civil Liberties Organisarion, CLO and the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, whose leaders addressed journalists in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital on Sunday, said that there had been a “geometric spike in cases of extortion and brutality against the people.
Chairman of BANGOF, Robinson Kuroghobogha, , who read a prepared statement of the groups, expressed worry at the increasing spate of human rights violations by men of the Nigeria Police, the armed forces and other security agencies, noting that that, rather, they are meant to provide security for citizens.
“It has come to the notice of the civil society that the rate of assault, harassment, intimidation and unlawful extortion of law-abiding citizens in Yenagoa by armed security personnel has been on a geometric increase,” Kuroghobogha said.
Continuing, he said that “several cases of brutality by armed security personnel have been reported to various institutions with no tangible response from them.”
The activist cited as examples of human right abuses by security operatives, the recent assaults on a reporter with Radio Bayelsa, Tonye Yemoleigha, by an Air Force rating and a student, Philomena Briggs, by five policemen.
Kuroghobogha observed that such acts are human right abuses and a violation of their fundamental human rights guaranteed in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human Rights.
“The human rights community and indeed all law-abiding citizens of Bayelsa are seriously concerned with the excessive conduct of armed security personnel, he states, adding that the primary duty of the police and other security agencies is “protection of lives and property and ensuring the rights of law-abiding citizens are not violated.”
“Therefore, policemen acting with impunity and violating the fundamental rights of law-abiding citizens is a deliberate call to chaos and anarchy and no sane society will approve of that”, he said further.
The groups appealed to the heads of security agencies to address the situation and halt the human rights abuses on citizens.