Three police officers attached to the Bayelsa state command have been arrested and given an orderly room trial in connection with the last Sunday murder of Victor Emmanuel in the state.
Victor was on Sunday murdered in cold blood before his wailing mother in Yenogoa, the capital of Bayelsa state, after he criticised the police for extorting money from motorist on his way back from church.
The undoubtedly embarrassed police officers chased Victor down to his home, and shot him dead before his wailing mom and onlookers.
“I saw them shoot my son; no mercy at all, they shot him brutally. As he fell while they were shooting him, the tallest of them still continued shooting him on the ground,” Grace Victor, his mom said.
Victor Emmanuel’s killing and subsequent silence by the police force has drawn wide condemnations from the public. Following public outcry, the House of Representative heard a motion on the case and summoned the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, to appear before it committees.
Apparently jolted by the recent dimension of the case, the police force arrested three of its officers who are believed to be the perpetrators of the murder.
Olusola Amoren, the public relation officer of the force, confirmed to Nigeria Police Watch on Friday that the three men have been given an orderly room trial in Bayelsa state.
“They result of the orderly room will soon be out and then we will decide if they are guilty or not,” Mr. Amoren said.
He, however, could not give the names of the suspects but said further actions on the case will depend on whether the officers are guilty of the murder or not.
If they are guilty, they will be dismissed and charged for murder, he said.
Okechukwu Nwanguma, coordinator of Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria, however, said that it is not enough to make police officers who commit egregious abuses such as murder to simply go through orderly room trial and then get dismissed.
“They must be tried for murder,” he demanded.
Before the Yenogoa three, other police officers have been arrested, dismissed and handed over to civil authorities for trials but none has ever been reported to have been concluded.
“Failure by police authorities to ensure accountability for past killings and abuses makes it possible for police officers to treat human life with levity,” Mr. Nwanguma added.
Extra-judicial killings by police officers in Bayelsa and other states in Nigeria have recently skyrocketed. Incidents of extrajudicial killings by the police are a daily feature in national dailies and the government have never acted until Victor’s case filtered into the news over the week.
Only the previous day, the police in the Eket Division in Akwa Ibom State shot, killed and paraded bodies of seven kidnap suspects in circumstances that still remain unclear.
This week also, a riot police officer in Ido Local Government Area of Oyo State shot and killed a truck driver for allegedly refusing to give him a N20 bribe.
Also this week, some police officers in Ido-Ekiti, Ido-Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State, killed a girl, Tayo Abe, and injured eight others, including her siblings
In the past months, Bayelsa state has been a melting pot of police extrajudicial killing leading to the disbandment of “Operation Famou Tangbei”, a terror anti crime police squad in Bayelsa over complaint of incessant extrajudicial killings. The state’s police commission was also replaced.
Analysts believe that extra judicial killings are systemic in the force and would hardly be curbed considering the depth of corruption in the force and government’s unwillingness to reform the force.
“It seems to me that the culture of impunity which pervades and rules police conduct and performance is responsible for this type of gruesome and senseless killing and other abuses,” Mr. Nwanguma said.
Mr. Nwanguma argued that the process through which people are recruited into the police, ensures that there more unstable men and women in the police than the number of sane and emotionally stable ones.