Gunshots as ‘police’ sack mobile court in Abuja

NOPRIN urges IGP to disband SARS

Sporadic gunshots rented the air yesterday afternoon in Dei-Dei, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as gunmen in police uniform, dispersed the mobile court in the area trying violators of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) safety protocols.

Witnesses said the incident threw residents and motorists into confusion, as everyone, including the magistrate and prosecutors, scampered for safety. The FCT Ministerial Joint Enforcement Task Team on COVID-19 Restrictions had arrested a policeman, Agada Gabriel, for not wearing a facemask in public and overloading his Gulf car with passengers.

The culprit, who was arrested around the premises of the court, was said to have immediately called his colleague, Smart Jacob, for assistance. However, both men were charged for similar offences and sentenced accordingly.

Trouble started when they bluntly refused to pay fines or engage in community service as directed by the court. A witness, David Odeh, told The Guardian that the convicts subsequently mobilised gunmen from the Mobile Police Barracks at Dei-Dei who stormed the court, shooting sporadically.

While the Magistrate, Theresa Otu; Court Prosecutor, Emmanuel Yatsegha; and other court officials, including correctional service personnel, scampered for safety, the ‘policemen’ reportedly dismantled the court’s canopy and vowed not to allow any court sitting in the area.

Howeverm chairman of the task team, Ikharo Attah, expressed confidence in the ability of the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, to apprehend the errant ‘officers’ and mete out appropriate sanctions.

IN another development, the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) has urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The National Coordinator, Ikule Emmanuel, stated yesterday that the police could not be reformed without Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the media and activists speaking out on the issue.

“NOPRIN Foundation, on behalf of its 53 member organisations, supports the statement issued earlier by notable CSOs in support of the disbandment of the Special Tactical Squad (STS) and the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), which represent the views of CSOs and the society they represent,” he stated.

According to NOPRIN, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has suffered series of backlash from local and international communities due to the level of impunity and unprofessionalism exhibited by its various units.

“Various reports also reveal how they enrich themselves with the items stolen and seized from their victims and their relatives, how the poor and defenceless ones are the most affected. They get involved in civil offences and carry out high degree of torture on suspects on little issues of misunderstanding.”

In this article:
COVID-19David Odeh
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