The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has explained why the military took over the police function of maintaining internal security, including in the insurgency-ravaged North-East, because the police lacked sophisticated weapons.
The IGP, represented by the Commissioner of Police in the Federal Capital Territory Command, Abuja, Musa Kimo, said this in his keynote address at a seminar organised by a civil society organisation, Global Amnesty Watch.
The seminar was with the theme, “Counter-insurgency, human rights and good governance in the context of Nigeria situation.”
The IGP said, “The police, being the primary institution saddled with the responsibility of maintaining internal security, had much to contend with in the rising wave of resource-based and sectarian insurgency, hence, the military had to step in to assist as the police had no sophisticated weapons to match the ones used by the insurgents.”
He, however, dismissed recent reports by some international rights advocacy groups, especially Amnesty International, alleging human rights violations by security agencies. Idris insisted that the rules of engagement were being applied in line with the international best practices.
He said, “Over the years, the police along with the military and other paramilitary agencies have continued to engage the insurgents with a view to subduing them and in all the operations, the rules of engagement are being applied in line with international best practices.
“In the course of the counter-insurgency operations by the security forces, there has been no intent or design to abuse the fundamental human rights of either the insurgents or that of the civilian populace.
“However, during some raids on insurgents’ hideouts, it was possible that some innocent ones were arrested along with the culprits but usually, screening and investigations are being carried out and subsequently those considered innocent were immediately released.”
According to him, it was possible that during some gun battles with the armed insurgents, casualties were recorded from both sides with some civilians becoming victims of stray bullets.
“It is, therefore, unfortunate that the above situation is being misunderstood and being taken to mean intentional actions aimed at violating the fundamental rights of the people by the human rights observers. The police may say that human rights violations are myth rather than reality,” Idris said.
At the event, the country representatives of GAW, Helen Adesola, charged stakeholders in security not to assess situations in manners that would place terrorists and other killers at an advantage, while criminalising state defence forces.