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Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Attorney General summons police chief over Boko Haram
Smoke rises from Maiduguri prison after it was set on fire by members of a local Islamic group in Yobe state. Photo:REUTERS
By Gowon Emakpe
March 3, 2010 03:00AM
Worried by the extra-judicial killings allegedly carried out by officers of the Nigeria Police during the Boko Haram crisis, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Adetokunbo Kayode, has summoned the Inspector General of Police and the police leadership to discuss the issue.
Mr. Kayode said, over the past few weeks, documentary and photographic evidence of extra-judicial killings by Nigeria’s police has dominated national and international discourse.
“Specifically, I am refereeing to the Aljazeera documentary on the Boko Haram unrest and Amnesty International’s report alleging extra-judicial killings by the Nigerian Police,” he said.
The Minister, who briefed the press after his meeting with the National Committee on Torture, said he decided to convene the meeting because of the growing unease about Nigeria’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, and specifically to the government’s position on torture and extra-judicial killings.
He instructed the committee to put administrative measures in place to investigate the documentary on the killings, stating that those who appear on the video clip would be identified and made to face the wrath of the law.
He said the visuals undermine our image as a nation of laws that is committed to the human rights provisions in its constitution as well as its international human rights obligations.
“A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and fundamental freedoms and this is why we cannot tolerate impunity disguised under the cloak of security or any other guise,” he said.
Furthermore, he said policemen who were involved in the alleged killings are now facing orderly room trial and will be brought to justice.
“Over 600 people, including police officers, have been indicted by the investigating committee set up by the Federal Government to investigate the Boko Haram incident,” he said.
Mr. Kayode also said the impression is that extra-judicial execution and other unlawful killings in Nigeria are widespread and go largely uninvestigated and unpunished.
“My judgment on this is a matter of record. In one of my very first speeches as the Attorney General (of the Federation) and Minister of Justice of the Federation, I did state categorically that the Federal Government of Nigeria unequivocally condemns all extra-judicial executions and other unlawful killings,” he said. “Going forward, it is my strong believe that the Federal Government of Nigeria has a solemn duty to criminalise torture and make extra-judicial executions punishable by sanctions commensurate with the gravity of the practice. This is an extraordinarily important responsibility of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and it is one that will be carried out assertively irrespective of any political concern.”