ABUJA, 12 May, 2013: The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, has condemned the pattern of attacks on and targeting of security agents, and called for firm action to bring those involved in this to justice promptly.
In separate condolence letters to the Inspector-General of Police, M.D. Abubakar; and Director-General of the State Security Service, (SSS), Mr. Ekpenyong Ita, over the week-end in connection with the killing of service personnel of the Police and SSS in Bama, Borno State and Lafia, Nassarawa State, Dr. Odinkalu said: “Law enforcement and security officers have the right to life and when this right is violated in this way, those who do it violate our collective freedoms and security as a people and must be held to account.”
He added: “No country can tolerate the killing in this way of those who put on the uniform to protect and defend us. This is totally unacceptable. We condemn unequivocally these and all acts of violence directed at law enforcement and security agents and stand with you in seeking that all those responsible should be promptly brought to justice under our laws.”
Dr. Odinkalu also expressed the hope that the service and gallantry of the fallen personnel will be properly and publicly honoured and acknowledged by the country and that their families will not be forgotten.
In conveying the condolences of the Governing Council of the Commission, Dr. Odinkalu also prayed the Almighty to “grant the souls of the fallen officers merciful and eternal repose and to those they have left behind comfort in these very difficult times.”
On Tuesday 7 May, 2013, a joint security team, of over 90 personnel went on a mission to arrest the leader of the Ombatse Cult in Lafia, Nassarawa State. Only 17 of them returned. Acting reportedly on a tip-off the cultists reportedly set upon the security personnel, killing many of them. The number of police officers killed is not yet confirmed but is thought now to be over 70.
In the same week, several other security personnel were also killed in Bama, Borno State. It was also reported that 105 prisoners were freed in the pre-dawn raid in Bama, Borno state. Bama’s police station, military barracks and government buildings were also reportedly burnt.
The total number of security personnel killed or injured in ongoing internal security operations in Nigeria is unknown but is thought to be quite significant. The National Human Rights Commission is currently undertaking investigations into the situation in parts of north-eastern Nigeria.