A civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Sunday, described the proposal by the newly appointed Inspector-General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, to set up a Special Intervention Squad in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to be deployed to the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as chasing shadow.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the Special Intervention Squad may turn out to. be another killer-squad rebranded after the manner of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the repackaged Special Weapons and Tactical Team (SWAT).
The group said what should be uppermost in the. agenda of the IGP was to evolve strategies for rebuilding the Police.
The group cautioned the new IGP, not to be overzealous but to be very circumspect and build up strategies and implement them to coordinate the rebuilding process of the Nigeria Police Force in Nigeria and in the entire South-East geopolitical zone.
HURIWA warned IGP Egbetokun not to establish another Squad that would be synonymous with unlawful cum extra-judicial killings, torture and extortion like the notorious SARS.
The group said Nigeria was yet to recover from the numerous atrocities committed by men of the disbanded SARS and the rebranded SWAT teams. According to data by global rights group, Amnesty International, at least, 115 citizens in the South-East were brutally killed by SARS operatives within four months whilst the group was in existence. The several cases of extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances, organ trafficking, mass arrest, torture, extortions, and ill-treatment have not stopped despite the disbandment of SARS.
HURIWA: “IGP Olukayode Egbetokun should be circumspect, especially with his establishment of a Special Intervention Squad which may turn another killer-squad by the Police like the one that caused 2020 nationwide protests. This is unacceptable.
“The IGP shouldn’t be overzealous. Let him be very circumspect, reflect before jumping to create media sensationalism. Police is burdened by corruption, bribery, gross indiscipline, lack of proper trainings, poor facilities and unreliable statistical data. The IGP should build up strategies and implement them to solve these teething problems first.
“The police is non-existent in the South East due to the activities of unknown gunmen and ex-Niger Delta agitator, Asari Dakubo, made a suspicious statement which links him to the phenomenon of unknown gunmen in the South East but IGP is afraid of Dokubo to arrest him. Dokubo said his armed mercenaries are in active operations against those he called bandits all across the Country, including the South East of Nigeria. He said it was his armed mercenaries that are killing bandits and not soldiers. What does he mean by these statements if not a nexus between his mercenaries and the so-called unknown gunmen?
“The IGP should coordinate the police rebuilding process in the South East, build up the intelligence department which is lacking. These are rational objectives than chasing shadows with the superfluous plot to set up a unit within the Police. Egbetokun is chasing shadows and failing to pay attention to the issues that matter.”