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EndSARS, Igboho As Faces Of Unequal Justice
I have been impressed with the prosecution of nine suspected #EndSARS protesters accused of killing policemen in Ibadan during the October 2020 #EndSARS protest. The suspects are being tried in an Oyo State High Court for allegedly hacking to death Police Inspectors Peter Abegunde, James Akanmu and Alidu Yusuf during an attack on, and razing of Ojoo Divisional Police Headquarters, Ojoo, Ibadan during the violent protest.
They are Adeshina Ademuyiwa, Ikechukwu Eze, Ariyo Sodiq, Ikenna Amaechi, Oyewole Olumide, Ariyo Afeez, Taoreed Abiodun, Adekunle Moruf and Rasheed Tiamiyu. The suspects are being tried on a five-count charge including murder, stealing of police arms and ammunition and setting police station ablaze.
In addition to allegedly killing the policemen, they were accused of stealing “five AK-47 rifles, one assault rifle, 2,000 live 9MM ammunition, one three-seater iron chair, police uniforms, computers, laptops and other valuable items at the Divisional Police headquarters, Ojoo, in the Ibadan Judicial Division and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 383(2)(a) and punishable under Section 390(4)(f) of the Criminal Code Laws of Oyo State, Cap 38, Vol. Laws of Oyo State 2000.”
They all pleaded ‘Not guilty’ to the charges.
At one of the hearings, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Ojo Waheed, painted a grim picture of how the accused wreaked havoc on the police station, how he escaped being killed by the irate hoodlums and how his colleagues were hacked to death on the fateful day.
No one who listened to how the policemen were hacked to death would find love in their heart for the murderers. Policemen, like other security personnel, are citizens who should be protected. They deserve to live. They don’t deserve to be murdered just because their job is to ensure that citizens obey the law.
It is the same reason Nigerians are still expressing anger at the killing of peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, last year, although the report has since been faulted largely for alleged contradictions therein and lack of unassailable evidence to establish the claim.
So was the senseless killing of two persons in the Ibadan home of the embattled Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo (aka Sunday Igboho) on July 1 during an invasion by the Department of State Security (DSS) personnel. They shot their way through and killed two persons in the dead of the night.
But while we are witnessing prosecution of those who killed the policemen with a level of happiness that hoodlums are made to face the law for their alleged heinous act, the Nigerian Army and the DSS are yet to name those complicit in the Lekki Toll Gate and at Igboho’s residence. It has become the culture of Nigerian security agencies to shield officers involved in such crimes, hiding under national security that they performing their duty. Their duty is not to kill anyone exercising their rights. Their duty is not to kill those having a sweet rest after a day’s job in a lawful property.
Justice Ladiran Akintola, who heard the case of the enforcement of human rights of the Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Igboho did not mince words in calling on the DSS to name the officers who killed the two persons at Igboho’s Ibadan residence on July 1. After granting all 16 Igboho’s prayers and slamming N20.5 billion damages on the DSS for the invasion, the judge said he would have ordered the secret police to name the officers to enable them face the law if it had been included in Igboho’s prayers. He said officers who kill citizens illegally should face the law.
Killing of police or any security personnel is as heinous as killing of any human being. Just as police killers are facing the law, security personnel who kill needlessly should also be made to face the law. This will serve justice to deceased’s families and also deter others from becoming trigger-happy when dealing with citizens.
Here is a call on the DSS to name its personnel that killed two people in Sunday Igboho’s house. The lives of the police officers allegedly killed by the nine young men facing trial in the high court are as sacred as the lives of those murdered in Igboho’s house.
Nigeria’s constitution treats life as sacred. All international laws do the same. It is the reason some Non-Governmental Organizations such as the Transparency International monitor even the operations of the military in crisis communities or warring nations, reporting murder, rape and torture of hapless civilians in order to force them to stick to their rules of engagement.
The federal government, which controls all conventional security agencies in Nigeria, should compel the agencies to respect rights of all citizens in all their operations. Any officer who runs foul of the terms of engagement deserves to be named and made to face the law. Nigeria is not a banana republic. Security agencies are not above the law.
Our country is in desperate need of this sanity. Security personnel who kill citizens needlessly are criminals like ‘protesters’ that kill law enforcers. Civil society groups, civil rights campaigners and public affairs analysts should not just be focusing on those killed by police or other security personnel, they should, in the same measure, focus on security personnel killed by criminals in the course of discharging their duties of protecting us. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
Campaign for human rights and justice should be rounded, not selective. All men of conscience should speak in favour of bringing to book all those killing policemen in Southeast in the ongoing protest against the arrest and prosecution of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Namdi Kanu. Those policemen are only doing what they were employed to do. Anyone killing a fellow human being is nothing but a criminal.
Oladele, an Ibadan-based journalist, wrote through email@example.com