A recent survey by NOIPolls has revealed that a large proportion of Nigerians (77 percent) are of the opinion that police brutality is prevalent.
The result of the Police Brutality poll conducted in the week commencing 6 May 2019 by NOIPolls and released on Tuesday, 14 May 2019, in Abuja showed that 40 percent of Nigerians interviewed said that they had either been or know someone who had been recently brutalised by Nigeria police personnel.
The report quoted some news reports where a teenage girl was killed by a stray bullet in a shootout between policemen and some cultists in Ikorodu in Lagos State on 16 March 2019.
Another case was reported on 25 March 2019 , where a commercial motorcycle rider was shot dead in Kilo, Surulere area of Lagos while, on 31 March 2019, Ademola Moshood was shot dead by the police personnel a few blocks away from his house in Lagos state.
According to the report, the increase in the case of police brutality has led to intense pressure from the public to reform the Nigeria Police Force and as such the Nigerian Senate passed the Police Reform Bill in April 2019 for presidential assent.
It noted that one of the outstanding features of the bill is that it provides internal disciplinary mechanisms for any police officer that maltreats or kills an innocent citizen.
The findings of the survey revealed that a larger proportion of Nigerians (34 percent) cited ‘poor police welfare’ as the major cause of police brutality on citizens.
The other reasons given for police brutality included ‘inadequate training’ of the Nigeria police personnel (17 percent), ‘lack of contentment and greed’ (11 percent), ‘lack of experience’ and the issue of ‘corruption’ within the Nigeria Police Force amongst others.
The NOIPolls therefore concludes that while the passage of the Police Reform Bill is a laudable effort, it is worthy to note that the Nigeria police are privy to the fundamental human rights’ provisions under chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended.
“Therefore, firearms against any citizen ‘except in self–defence or defence of others against threat of death or severe injury or to prevent the escape of a person who has committed a serious or deadly crime while resisting their authority’ is unprofessional and barbaric,” it said.
It stressed the need for the deployment of a strict measure to curb the menace and that the onus now lies on the executive to assent to the Police Reform Bill as a matter of urgency to ensure that this act is put to an end.