A civil society group, Access to Justice (AJ) yesterday, called on the Federal Government, to constitute an independent inquiry into the killings that took place at the Department of State Security, DSS headquarters on March 30, 2014.
“The Nigerian government is under a constitutional and international responsibility to thoroughly and impartially investigate the deaths of any persons who die in custody,” a statement by AJ’s Executive Director, Mr Joseph Chu’ma Otteh said.
“No 34 of The United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment supports this position,” the statement added.
“This inquiry must be free from external influence or control, and undertaken by people of unquestionable integrity. We urge that the result of the inquiry be made public and any person found to have killed without clear, reasonable and lawful justification be brought to account and to justice.”
On what transpired on March 30, AJ said “The official account states that a detainee struck an operative, who had brought breakfast, with his handcuff. The report did not say whether the handcuff had been locked around the detainee’s wrist or was open. The official statement did not say the extent to which the actions of the detainee threatened the life or safety of the operative, and whether the detainee succeeded in dispossessing the operative of his weapon, if he/she carried one.
“The statement said that shots were fired at the detainee, but did not say what the other detainees did to deserve being killed. Some media reports quote Ms. Marilyn Ogar as saying that “… the attempt by the detainee to escape made other DSS operatives on guard to fire shots to prevent others from escaping from the facility”.
“A literal interpretation of this statement is that other detainees who posed no danger to the DSS or its operatives, or, who, in fact made no attempts to escape from detention were fired at to prevent them from even contemplating the possibility of fleeing. There is no clear justification provided by the DSS or the Nigerian State for the killing of such a multitude of vulnerable persons.
“Many questions arise: Where were the suspects when they were fired at? Outside of their enclosures or within? Within the precincts of the DSS facility or outside? How were they fired at? To incapacitate them from escaping or annihilate them? Then, who fired at them?”