Against the backdrop of the killing of 22 policemen and burning of 205 police stations and other security formations during the EndSARS riots across the country, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, on Friday, told policemen and women to henceforth protect themselves if attacked.
Adamu gave the order during a visit to the police command of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to assess the level of damage during the EndSARS protest in the country’s capital city. He commended officers and men of the Force for their resilience and professionalism during the protest that resulted in violence in most parts of the country.
The IGP said the Federal Government was relying on the police to ensure that the public space was not taken over by criminals. “So, no amount of provocation and insult will make us shy away from our responsibilities. In as much as we are aware that the government is behind us, we will encourage you to continue to be professional and civic in performing your duties.
“But if anybody touches or assaults you, you can also protect yourself because when we talk of human right, the police are human, so the rights of police officers should also be protected. “We are sending the message that legally, we have the right to protect ourselves,” he said.
He said the visit was to commiserate with the officers and men of the command over the protest that led to loss of lives and property.
“I have seen how you went out to deal with very difficult situation in trying to maintain peace, law and order in the FCT during the protest,” he said.
He said that during the protest, some roads were blocked, some vehicles were burnt and police stations in some parts of the country, including the FCT, were burnt with police officers assaulted. Adamu said the destruction and other criminal activities were done because the protesters were waiting for the police to react.
“I know how you went about protecting the protesters so that they would not be molested, but along the line, the protesters attacked not only members of the public but also police officers.
“These are criminal activities by the protesters wanting to provoke police personnel to use maximum force against them to justify police brutality.
“But with your resilience and professionalism, you were able to show maximum restrain and meet up with the standard that is required in curbing protest without using force,” he said.
He said the resilience and professionalism demonstrated by the officers showed the way Nigerian police officers and men, especially those in the FCT, were trained to deal with unrest in the country.
According to him, “we are here to tell you that the government is concerned about what happened during the protest and is solidly behind the police.”
In his remark, the Commissioner of Police in charge of the FCT, Mr Bala Ciroma, commended the IGP for the visit, noting that the command had arrested and arraigned 196 suspects in connection with the riot.
He said that 10 of the suspects had been convicted, one discharged, 73 granted bail and 112 remanded in prison custody by six mobile courts in the territory.
Meanwhile, IGP Adamu said 22 police personnel were extra-judicially killed and scores of others injured during the recent EndSARS protests in different locations across the country. The police chief stated this on the heels of a report by Amnesty International that police personnel shot at peaceful protesters during the rallies.
Adamu, in a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Frank Mba, said that 205 police stations and formations, including other critical private and public infrastructure, were also damaged by a section of the protesters. The IGP, who faulted the Amnesty International’s report, claimed that many of the personnel injured during the protests were in life-threatening conditions in hospitals.
He described the report as untrue, misleading and contrary to all available empirical evidence. The statement reads in part: “Officers of the Nigeria Police Force acted professionally, exercised commendable restraints and some paid the supreme price for peace during the recent protests and ensuing violence in some parts of the country. “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.
“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.
“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. Despite these unprovoked attacks, our police officers never resorted to use of unlawful force or shooting at the protesters as alleged in the report.
“It also beggars imagination 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, who noted that the Force was committed to the Federal Government’s ongoing reform of the NPF targeted at improving service delivery, positive police-citizen relationship and respect for human rights, urged Amnesty International to ensure proper verification of facts before making its reports public.