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Before Dr. Odinkalu, Chair, Nigeria's NHRC Is Felled By State Bullets

Before Dr. Odinkalu, Chair, Nigeria's NHRC Is Felled By State Bullets

-Masterweb Reports
Public Statement By Intersociety-Nigeria  
 
Before Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, Board Chair, Nigeria’s National Human Rights
Commission Goes The Way Of Others Felled  By  State Bullets Or Killer-Gas
Substances
 
(Onitsha-Nigeria, Sunday, 15th day of April, 2012)-The leadership of
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law strongly
believes that the Chairman, Board of Governing Council of the National
Human Rights Commission, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, one of the few young
Nigeria’s “legist” scholars, may go the way of other Nigeria’s “social
engineers” felled by State bullets or killer-gas substances, unless
sustained local and international campaigns are initiated to ward off such
possible reality.
 
Having critically x-rayed the circumstances surrounding the 11th day of
April 2012’s open criminal invitation extended to the NHRC’s chair by the
Acting IGP, Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, through his DIG, Force Criminal
Investigations Department in Abuja, who delegated it to one Dan Bature, a
Deputy Commissioner of Police, we fear that Dr. Chidi Odinkalu may have
become a “ candidate of formal and informal police criminal invitations”,
with the latter likely to be “he has gone to Abuja”, a euphemism for State
murder and extra-judicial execution of targeted citizens.
 
Dr. Chidi Odinkalu was issued with non-adjudicative criminal summons over
his legitimate assertion on March 5, 2012 at a public function, to the
effect that the Nigeria Police Force,” by estimates, carries out more than
2,500 extra-judicial execution of detainees yearly”, as a result of which
the Acting IGP claimed that it was “vexatious”.  We wish to state,
expressly, that the criminal invitation extended to Dr. Chidi Odinkalu by
the NPF amounts to gross abuse of office, executive irresponsibility and
recklessness. It is also tantamount to inviting a judge, criminally, to
explain his or her reasons for delivering a judgment, whether substantive
or orbiter dictum (or dicta). It saddens our heart that the Acting IGP and
his Force Headquarters does not seem to understand the basic provisions of
the law of the land, yet they claim to be “ officers of the law”.
 
For records, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, by virtue of his position as the Chairman
of the Board of Governing Council of the NHRC have rights, privileges and
immunities of a High Court Judge, whether formal or informal. This is
expressly in accordance with the NHRC’s Amended Act, signed into law by
President Goodluck Jonathan on 26th day of February 2011. The new amended
Act confers on the Commission the powers of a High Court in its core areas
of jurisdiction such as summons, investigations of complaints, their
findings and actions. Funny enough, it is the NHRC that is legally
empowered to summon any Nigerian including the IGP, and not the other way
round. The express meaning of the new “high court” powers of the NHRC is
that if any Nigerian including the IGP, whether acting or substantive,
feels aggrieved by the Commission’s summons, investigations, findings and
actions, he or she deserves a right under the law to go to the Court of
Appeal to challenge them, and certainly, not a high court. When clearly
compared with the summoning powers of the Police, which are strictly
restricted to criminal matters, the former’s are superior to the latter’s.
The forgoing simply means that the NHRC is now in the same jurisdictional
league with the National Industrial Court, Election Tribunals and Judicial
Commissions of Enquiry. The question now is: can the NPF criminally summon
heads of the Election Tribunals, the National Industrial Courts and the
Judicial Commissions of Enquiry? The express answer to this question is
that the NPF is legally incompetent to do so.
 
Other than the powers of a High Court status of the NHRC, it is also
deified internationally in line with various international rights
instruments assented to by Nigeria. Reckless conducts by State security
establishments such as the one under discussion, brought about the
establishment of State Human Rights Commissions by the member-states of
the UNO, after the 1990s’ plan of action on human rights so as, among
other things, narrow the gap between the independent rights NGOs and the
State, which perpetually sees rights issues and their campaigners as a
threat and coupist As crude and homicidal as the Sani Mohammed Abacha’ s
military regime was, it still created the present NHRC, though with  a
leprous decree in 1995. This is the same Commission (now with widened
responsibilities) that the supposedly democratic Nigeria Police Force is
bent on defiling with utter impunity. Also, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu is an
appointee of the Presidency with a tenure, whose appointment was duly
confirmed by the Nigeria’s Senate. If the NHRC Boss is credibly seen as a
threat to national security or grievous violator of the law, which he is
not presently, the NHRC Amended Act of the Federation 2011 empowers the
President and the Senate, and not the NPF to handle same legally.  In the
event of sanction or removal from office for possible gross misconduct,
the Amended NHRC Act empowers the President to request for the removal of
the NHRC Boss from the Senate, which, in turn, will effect his or her
removal via a simple majority vote. The best the NPF top headship could



do, under the law and present circumstance, is to report him to his
appointing authority, the President, with incontrovertible pieces of
evidence pertaining to his or her alleged gross misconduct. By virtue of
the said Act, the NHRC Boss takes no directives from any government agency
including the President, except where he or she engages in gross
misconduct.  It is obvious that the top leadership of the NPF is crudely
ignorant of these basic legal provisions that prompted it to act
professionally illiterately. The Force, therefore, acted irresponsibly,
abashedly, absurdly, abusively, recklessly and shamelessly.
 
Furthermore, what the NHRC Boss has said is less than 0.1 percent of the
current realities with respect to police corruptive and homicidal
activities in Nigeria. Apart from the “Criminal Force” Report of 2010 by
NOPRIN & OSIWA, from which the NHRC Boss derived his assertion, there are
other newer and older similar reports by leading and respected local and
international rights groups such as the Intersociety’s twin reports of
December 2011(Police Corruption As Human Rights (roadblock extortion &
related issues) & How 54,000 Nigerians Died Outside The Law Since 1999).
There are also others like: “Killing At Will (AI-UK)”, “Rest in
Pieces”(HRW-USA), “Everyone’s in the Game”(HRW-USA) and the Nigeria’s
State of Human Rights Report of 2009 by the US Department of State, etc,
all documenting heinous homicidal activities of the NPF as well as other
police-bred killings in Nigeria since 1999.
 
 
Therefore, the criminal invitation extended to the immunity-bearing NHRC
Boss by the NPF is criminally, harmfully and homicidally intended. The
sheer ignorance of the law of the land in this respect, by the top
leadership of the NPF led by Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, is also shocking and
saddening. Instead of this clear witch-hunting of an innocent and
conscientious top public citizen by the NPF, the clarification
invitations, not criminal summons, should be holistically extended to the
leaderships of the Access to Justice, CLEEN Foundation, International
Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Network on Police Reforms
in Nigeria & Open Society Institute for West Africa & its founder (George
Soros); Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Madam Hillary
Clinton & her US Department of State as well as members of the NBA who
have instituted civil  cases seeking for compensatory justice over the
extra judicial activities including unlawful  killings of their clients’
relatives by the personnel of the NPF, being some of the respected bodies
that have documented and issued various reports of police atrocities in
Nigeria, if the Force is truly desirous of unearthing the alleged
unjustifiable homicidal activities of its personnel including pretrial
executions.
 
We, hereby, call on the President & Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
and Chairman, Nigeria Police Council, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to direct the
Secretary to the Federal Government to conclusively and satisfactorily
investigate this height of abuse of office and professional misconduct by
the top leadership of the NPF, with a view to sanctioning those involved,
apologizing to the NHRC Boss, saving his dear life, effectively protecting
his revered office and saving the Federal Republic of Nigeria of this
unpardonable embarrassment and more to come. The Acting IGP and his
personnel must be stopped by the President from further harassing and
intimidating the respected NHRC Boss. Mr. Mohammed Dikko Abubakar’s
confirmation as the Nigeria’s substantive IGP should be tied to his
culpability or otherwise in this horrible national and international
embarrassment of the Government and Great People of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria.
 
While commending the NHRC Boss, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, for his courage and
sagacity, we wish to call on other reputable civil society organizations
local and internationally to rise in fierce defense of the NHRC and its
boss by ensuring that its independent status and activities are not
stifled by any State coercive agencies particularly the NPF. Efforts must
also be ensured and intensified to ensure that Dr. Chidi Odinkalu does not
go the way of other irreplaceable social engineers in Nigeria, felled by
State bullets and killer-gas substances such as Alhaja Kudiratu Abiola.
 
Signed:
 
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman, Board of Trustees
+234(0) 80333601078, +234(0) 8180103912
info@intersociety-ng.org, umeagbalasi@yahoo.com
 
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
+234(0) 8037114869