…205 stations, other critical infrastructure damaged
…insists operatives didn’t deploy excessive force
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, yesterday said at least 22 police personnel lost their lives during the nationwide protests against the excesses of the now-disbanded Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS). He also said a total of 205 police stations, including other public and private critical infrastructure may had been damaged during the protests, which were later hijacked by suspected hoodlums and looters.
Adamu, who made the startling disclosures in response to Amnesty International’s (AI’s) timeline on the attack on peaceful protesters at Lekki tollgate in Lagos, resulting in fatalities, wondered whether police personnel were not deserving of protection of their fundamental human rights.
The AI had, contrary to claims by the authorities, insisted that at least 12 protesters were killed by men in military uniforms, who were seen opening fire on the protesters, in several videos that went viral on social media.
In the report, the global ights’ watchdog had accused the police officers of shooting at peaceful protesters during the demonstrations that lasted about two weeks. While describing AI’s report as “untrue and misleading”, the police chief maintained that police operatives deployed during the #EndSARS protests excerised restraint, as they did not use excessive force during the period.
The IGP’s position, which was conveyed in a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, “affirmed that officers of the Nigeria Police Force acted professionally, exercised commendable restraints.
“Some paid the supreme price for peace during the recent protests and ensuing violence in some parts of the country. “The IGP made this observation following a report by Amnesty International dated October 21, that police personnel shot at peaceful protesters.
“He described the Amnesty Int’l report as untrue, misleading and contrary to all available empirical evidence. “The IGP noted that during the protests, officers of the Force used legitimate means to ensure that the protests were carried out in a peaceful manner and in most cases, physically protected and walked side-by-side with the protesters.
“He reiterated that even when the protests turned violent in some parts of the country, the officers still maintained utmost restraint and did not use excessive force in managing the situations.” He added: “Available Reports show that twenty-two (22) police personnel were extra-judicially killed by some rampaging protesters and scores injured during the protests. Many of the injured personnel are in life threatening conditions at the hospitals.
“Two hundred and five (205) Police stations and formations including other critical private and public infrastructure were also damaged by a section of the protesters.” He said despite these unprovoked attacks, our police officers never resorted to use of unlawful force or shooting at the protesters as alleged in the report.
The statement added: “It is unimaginable that Amnesty International failed to mention or pay tribute to Police officers who were gruesomely murdered during the protests while serving their fatherland. “The Force decries the discriminatory tendencies exhibited by Amnesty International as seen in the report.
“One wonders if in the estimation of Amnesty International, police officers are not also human beings equally entitled to the protection of their fundamental rights to life and dignity of human person.”
The IGP, while noting that the Force is committed to the Federal Government’s ongoing holistic reforms of the NPF targeted at improving service delivery, positive police-citizen relationship and respect for human rights, enjoins Amnesty International to ensure they subject their reports to adequate scrutiny and proper verification of facts before making the reports public.