By Enock Reuben
A civil society organization, Avocats Sans Frontiers France (ASFF) has commended the Nigerian Police Force for initiating platform to ensure that human rights perpetrators within the police are now held accountable primarily by the Nigerian Police Force.
This was the position of ASF France at its third Police-CSO Situation Room conference in Abuja titled “Strengthening the National Actors Capacities and Advocating For Ending Severe Human Rights Violations in Nigeria”.
The Country Director of Avocats Sans Frontiers in Nigeria, Angela Uzoma Iwuchukwu said “We believe that this Situation Room is here to promote justice but also to ensure that it will bring an end to impunity with regards to police brutality and also human rights violations by the police in Nigeria.
“The issue of torture is actually almost systemic in Nigeria, so we have made a lot of effort since the inception of the project in 2019, we can say that there are improvement, their is improvement not because that their is a reduction in the cases of torture but because we now have accountability”.
She further stated, “we now have a platform for victims of torture to report their cases and receive prompt legal aids, but on the other hands we now have a platform to ensure that perpetrators within the police are now held accountable primarily by the Nigerian Police Force. This is a key progress that we have achieve so far.
“In the past we didn’t have this, we have helped about 107 victims within the period of three and half years to receive justice with various cases filed in court and various cases also concluded on behalf of the victims” she added.
During the deliberations, Nigeria Police represented by CSP Sani El-Mustapha who leverage on the achievements made by the Nigeria Police Force on the issues of human rights, noted that, Police has opened its doors to Civil Society Organization to ensure they give better services to the members of the public most especially in the area of human rights violation.
Sani said, “We believe the program will open the door for them to know exactly what the Nigerian Police Force is doing, so that citizens will have a better perception of the Nigerian Police Force toward these issues of human right violation. The Nigerian Police Force through the social media accepts complaints from citizens, not necessary for people to come to the police station or have a face to face dialogue with police officers but through various social networks. We give members of the public different platform to make their complains”.
Also at that occasion, the representative of European Union and ECOWAS, Mr. Reuben Alba Aguilera said EU is committed to solutions not problems by creating awareness in the communities. He believed that people and Civil Society groups are the mirror of Nigeria citizens.
He said, “It should not come as a surprise to you why we fund this kind of program, as you know that human rights is the core of what European leader is all about, we are trying to promote that all over the world including Nigeria. So in that sense the SAFE project is one of the major flagship projects which try to improve and support Nigeria to ensure that human rights are respected, we give particular support to victims. We know very well that the context of Nigeria is not an easy one, Nigeria is a big country with increasing security challenges, and violence in this country takes many forms”.
The conference which was organized by ASF France, Nigerian Police Force, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) with the support of European Union to create a collaborative platform to improve justice particularly to strengthen the accountability mechanism within the Nigerian Police in term of receiving cases of excessive use of force, police brutality and also extortion of the members of the public.
The fora was also to ensure that their is a smooth passage of information reportage of cases and also their handling feedback to the victims and the general public.