The Amnesty International (AI) is investigating human rights abuses against residents of the South-south state of Bayelsa by the Nigeria Police’s anti-crime security outfit, (OFT) in the state.
Specifically, it is probing the circumstances surrounding the death of Tochukwu Uzoukwu, who was allegedly murdered by operatives of the OFT and the disappearance of one Ezonasa Dietemepreye, who was shot and arrested by OFT since February 22, 2011 and had not been seen since then.
Amnesty International officials, including Anja Bienert of the Police and Human Rights Programme, Aster Van Kregtan, of the international secretariat and official named Lucy, held meetings with key witnesses of the two incidents that indicted the OFT of human rights abuses.
The global body, working in conjunction with the Bayelsa State chapter of Nigeria-based Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), was preparing the ground to sue the Inspector General of Police and the Bayelsa State government to challenge the legality of the establishment of the security outfit.
Investigation revealed that there have been subtle moves by the leadership of Famou Tangbei to call the family of Uzoukwu for a meeting so that the matter could be resolved amicably.
Sources at the meeting said with AI stepping in, the matter would definitely attract global attention and possibly force the Force Headquarters to order the disbandment of the security outfit and order a probe into its activities.
The officials of the human rights body were said to have expressed deep concern over the activities of OFT in Bayelsa State.
The Secretary of CLO in the state, Mr. Morris Alagoa, in an interview in Yenagoa, disclosed that the CLO was cooperating with other organizations within and outside Nigeria to ensure that justice is done in the case.
He insisted that the police officers involved in the two incidents should be arrested, dismissed and prosecuted. On the involvement of the AI, Alagoa said it was good news, as the organization had been known to fight human rights abuses anywhere in the world.
While stating that the CLO was not against OFT combating crime in the state, he pointed out that the fact that, with all the numerous arrests they had made, nobody had been charged to court speaks volume about the motive of the security outfit.
In his reaction, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Eguaveon Emoakpe, said the Bayelsa State Police Command had nothing to fear over the investigation by the Amnesty International
According to him, in the course of their investigation they would discover the truth and know that OFT operatives had not violated the human rights of Bayelsans.
He claimed that the recent raid carried out by the security outfit was to ensure that Bayelsa State remains safe for its people, as the police would not abdicate its responsibilities of protecting lives and property.