The Police Service Commission has frowned on the refusal of some policemen to return to their duty posts following the killing of about 22 cops during the violence that broke out in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests across the country.
The PSC said Public Service Rules, which also applies to members of the Nigeria Police Force, prescribes dismissal for any officer that deserted his job, while admonishing them to put the killing of their colleagues behind them.
The PSC stressed that policemen did not deserve to be killed and should in fact be protected as fellow human beings, but it however noted that the attack on them by hoodlums should not be an excuse for them to stay away from work.
PSC spokesperson, Mr Ikechukwu Ani, said the attacks on the police were not good for the country “because when you make Nigeria lawless and ungovernable, there would be a situation nobody would be able to control.”
The PUNCH had reported that policemen had stayed away from blackspots and their duty posts following the killing of their colleagues by suspected hoodlums who hijacked the #EndSARSprotests.
Riot policemen had also failed to respond to incidents of looting and vandalism of public and private property by miscreants in defiance of a directive by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, ordering them to reclaim the public space from hoodlums.
Senior officers had expressed fear for their lives, saying their security was not guaranteed hence their decision to stay away from work.
But Ani, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, said while the loss of policemen was painful, it should not be an excuse for security operatives to abandon their job of protecting the nation.
He stated, “The Nigeria Police Force is part of the public service and the public service is guided by the Public Service Rules. If you don’t come to work without permission, the punishment is dismissal if it is proven.
“The police as public servants are guided by the rules; so, they cannot on their own say they won’t go to work. Although, the Police Service Commission is also working to make sure they are protected because they are human beings; their lives also matter.”
The PSC spokesperson cautioned against further attacks on law enforcement agents, describing such incidents as an ill-wind that could lead to anarchy.
He added, “It would be an ill-wind that blows nobody any good but it is not a reason for anybody to say he won’t go to work. If you don’t go to work, the Public Service Rules will take its course.”
When asked if the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had formally informed the commission about the loss of his men, Ani said he had not been briefed on it.
Section 030402 of the Public Service Rules lists absence from duty without leave as serious misconduct, which can be investigated and if proved, may lead to dismissal.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of PSC, Musiliu Smith, has urged the police to rejig their anti-crime strategies, assuring officers and men of the Force of improved welfare.
He spoke on Thursday when he inspected some of the damaged police formations in the Lagos State Command alongside some retired senior officers.
A statement on Friday by the police spokesperson in Lagos State, SP Muyiwa Adejobi, said Smith called for “thorough investigation into all the cases recorded during the crisis. He emphasised that officers and men of the command should take the ugly incident as one of the challenges and hazards of police job in a developing country like ours.”
384 Stranded Nigerians Stranded in UAE, Saudi Arabia Return
A total of 384 Nigerians stranded in Saudi Arabia on Thursday arrived at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The returnees arrived via Air flight B773 at about 1:10 pm local time.
They include 300 males, 80 females, and one infant.
A representative of the minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bolaji received the returnees at the Hajj Terminal where he charged them not to despair.
He however, said the Nigerian government does not support illegal migration.
Lekki Shooting: FG Full of Denials, Cover-ups, Says Amnesty International
Nigerian authorities have failed to bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the brutal crackdown by security forces on peaceful #EndSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate and Alausa in Lagos in October 2020 and have brazenly attempted to cover up the violence, said Amnesty International Nigeria today, 100 days on from the attacks.
Since the assault by security forces, which killed at least 12 people, Nigerian authorities have targeted supporters of the protests against police brutality by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Some of the movement’s supporters have had their bank accounts frozen.
“The bloody events of 20 October 2020, when Nigerian security forces killed at least 12 people during the violent dispersal of peaceful #EndSARS protesters at Lekki and Alausa, have cast a shadow over Nigerian society that lingers to this day,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“Instead of bringing suspected perpetrators to justice and prioritizing genuine police reforms, Nigerian authorities have been abusing their powers by subjecting those who supported the protests to intimidation, harassment and smear campaigns.”
Reports from across Nigeria indicate that police violence is still widespread despite government promises of change.
Amnesty International is concerned that the Nigerian authorities will continue their current ban on protests and reminds the government of its obligations under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international human rights treaties to – which the country is a state party – to allow those who gather peacefully to express their views without fear of arrest or intimidation.
International human rights law also requires the Nigerian authorities to carry out prompt, thorough, independent, impartial and effective investigations into violations of human rights of the protesters including the right to life, such as those committed at Lekki and Alausa, as well as in other parts of the country, and to identify and bring suspected perpetrators to justice in fair trials.
“Those suspected to be responsible for the killings should be brought to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards,” said Osai Ojigho.
Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian government to suspend accused officials, pending investigations, and to ensure that victims access justice and effective remedies.
The Nigerian government has set up a panel of inquiry in Lagos State to investigate complaints against SARS and the incidents at Lekki and Alausa on 20 October 2020. However, government officials and the military continue to deny that anybody was killed during the protests while restating their resolve to punish leaders of the #EndSARS movement against police violence.
Investigations by Amnesty International indicate that since the #EndSARS protests were violently dispersed several of the movement’s leaders have been arrested, tortured and their bank accounts frozen. Many others have fled into exile.
22 More Deaths, 1,861 New Infections As COVID-19 Worsens in Nigeria
Nigeria recorded its second highest daily death toll from COVID-19, on Wednesday, suggesting the country has yet to reach the peak of the second wave, as infections continue to spread rapidly.
A total of 22 people died from COVID-19 on Wednesday to bring to 1,544, the total number of people who have now died from the disease in the country.
Nigeria also recorded its second highest daily infection tally with 1,861 new cases reported on Wednesday, according to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The 1,861 new cases, a sharp increase from the 1,303 infections recorded on Tuesday, raised the total number of infections in the country to 126,160.
Exactly a week ago, Nigeria recorded 1,964 new cases, the county’s highest daily figure ever.
Last week was one of the worst in Nigeria’s COVID-19 pandemic era.
A review of data provided by the NCDC, 11,659 persons tested positive for the virus last week (January 17- 23), which is 18 per cent higher than the previous week’s record of 9,880.
The direct adverse effect of the spike in infections has been more deaths.
In the previous 24 hours, before the latest update 15 people died from the disease.
Nigeria, about two weeks ago, recorded the deadliest day thus far in the global coronavirus pandemic, with 23 deaths under 24 hours.
Last week, Nigeria reported 82 deaths, which represents a 14 per cent increase from the previous week’s record.
Health authorities attributed the rising death toll to late referrals of COVID-19 patients to treatment centres.
Of the over 126,000 new cases, a total of 100,365 patients have recovered across the country.
Meanwhile, there are over 20,000 patients still receiving treatments in isolation centres.
The 1,861 new cases were reported from 22 states – Lagos (773), FCT (285), Oyo (138), Rivers (111), Plateau (92), Nasarawa (83), Kaduna (59), Enugu (57), Imo (57), Edo (43), Kano (27), Kwara (20), Ebonyi (19), Abia (17), Ogun (12), Osun (12), Katsina (8), Bayelsa (6), Bauchi (5), Delta (5), Borno (4), Jigawa (4), and Zamfara (1).
Lagos, Nigeria’s COVID-19 epicentre, led with 773 new cases followed by Abuja, the second most impacted city, with 285 new infections.
Nigerian authorities a few days ago said the COVID-19 vaccines expected this month will no longer arrive until February.