(Thursday, 8th October, 2020): The Federal Government of Nigeria and the country’s general citizens still have a long way to go as it concerns the country’s criminal justice administration and its management including Nigeria Police SARS reforms. In other words, it is an act of impossibility to successfully carry out Police SARS reforms without frontally tackling the endemic corruption in the Nigeria Police Force and ousting archaic and crude policing or policing and its investigations that are outside the confines of ‘man-mental-machine setting’.
The above was the position of Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law in a statement issued today and signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair (Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies), Barr Chinwe Umeche, Head of Democracy & Good Governance, Barr Obianuju Igboeli, Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law and Barr Amaka Damaris Onuoha, Head of Campaign & Publicity.
Having deeply and critically looked at the sorry state of policing and soldiering in Nigeria, we have boldly concluded that the decadence and crudity ravaging policing and soldiering in the country including the Police SARS operations or activities are deeply rooted and beyond media promises by Mr. IGP or the Federal Government. It is also an act of impossibility to successfully carry out Police SARS reforms without ‘mentalizing’ and digitalizing criminal intelligence, investigation and prosecution including revitalization of the NPF’s dead Forensic Department as well as its out-of-date Central Crime Database, Laboratories and Libraries.
The NPF dead forensic dept must be resuscitated & digitalized: No meaningful and effective Police reforms including its SARS reforms must take place without revitalization and digitalization of the NPF dead Forensic Department. The resuscitated Forensic under recommendation will be incomplete unless includes criminalistics, pathology, toxicology, physical anthropology, odontology, psychiatry, questioned documents, ballistics, tool work comparison and serology, etc. Criminalistics as an important and integral part of Forensic Science in modern policing including intelligence and investigation is the recognition, identification, individualization and evaluation of physical evidence by application of the natural sciences to law-science matters. Criminalistics evidence includes finger prints, blood and blood stains, semen stains, sand, saliva, drugs and alcohol, hairs and fibers; firearms and tool marks, etc.
It is therefore totally correct to say that the ‘genociding’ and torture culture deeply rooted in the NPF including its SARS criminal investigation is as a result of absence of the ICT powered tools above highlighted and mental know-how by its felonious criminal investigation handlers. This is in addition to the fact that till date, 90% of NPF SARS personnel and their commanders are serial torturers and stark computer illiterates and lack logical analytical skills. NPF also lacks electronic policing including electronic intelligence and investigation. Nowhere is also found in the NPF archives, ICT compliant guidelines for processing or handling of suspects arrested and investigated by Police SARS operatives.
3Es crime investigation triangle is unknown to police SARS & Ors: Generally strange and unknown to the Nigeria Police Force and its SARS is 3Es Crime Investigation Triangle. The modern criminal intelligence and investigation including interrogation/interview techniques in modern policing are inseparable, interwoven and inter-used with the 3Es Crime Investigation Triangle; comprising electronic protective and detective security (i.e. CCTVs, hidden cameras, metal/voice/lie detectors and biometrics; tracking machines, etc), electronic intelligence (surveillance, secret pens/cameras and other electronic tracking devices); and electronic investigation devices or technologies and researched crime texts (i.e. modern crime labs and libraries, computer/cyber literacy, etc).
The effective use or application of the 3Es Criminal Investigation Triangle strongly aids the application of criminal interrogation techniques by criminal investigators and makes their works easier and sophisticated. The overall potency of modern science of crime or digitalized and mentally advanced criminal investigation is that it ensures or aids speedy investigation and prosecution and trial. The knowledge and use of 3Es-CIT also makes criminal intelligence and investigation to be cheaper, less cumbersome, accessible and human rights and human dignity friendly and law compliant.
Endemic corruption in the NPF must be tackled: Several research studies have clearly shown that reforms in the NPF must concretely start with headlong tackling of endemic graft in the Force. For instance, in a 2010 study carried out by US based Human Rights Watch which Intersociety was part of, it was found that ‘corruption was deeply responsible for spate of extrajudicial killings and torture in the Nigeria Police Force”. In other words, a major reason responsible for high rate of extrajudicial killings and torture in the Police SARS is corruption.
Corruption in the Nigeria Police SARS hindering its reforms includes commercialization of criminal investigation (i.e. custodial bail fees and funding by complainants, of criminal investigation including arrests and prosecutions), beat patrol and roadblock extortion and daily criminal returns made to senior police officers (i.e. from SARS/MOPOL commanders/DPOs-Area Commanders-CPs-AIGs-DIGs-IGP), diversion of overhead funds meant for police formations by the NPF Force Headquarters and State Commands and privatization of policing formations and officers’ promotions and postings. Police SARS corruption also involves dabbling into and criminalization of civil matters, confiscation and forceful possession of monetary cash sums and properties belonging to suspects or “proceeds of crimes” and ritualism.
Rampancy of operational & custodial killings must end: Police SARS personnel have earned secret administrative power to ‘kill and bury” or “I can kill you and nothing will happen”. That is to say that they kill citizens at will including during their routine operational patrols and those held in their detention facilities. Torture is also their common salutation as well as raping of young married and unmarried women particularly the wives and other female relatives of their captives. It has also been found that many, if not most of the dead and tortured victims of Police SARS are criminally labeled or framed up with trumped accusations.
‘Holden charge’ & archaic laws must be abolished: Blockages to meaningful Police SARS and the entire policing reforms in Nigeria include the existence of archaic laws and jurisdictional practices in Nigeria or any part thereof. Despite being at variant with general provisions of Sections 33 and 34 of the country’s 1999 Constitution and specific provision of 35 (4) of the same Constitution and related others in the country’s int’l rights treaty laws, Police SARS operatives still go about arresting citizens and detaining them without administrative bails for over six months without trial; after which the incommunicado detainees are brought before magistrate courts for further remand under “Holden Charge”. There are also situations whereby endless remand orders are crookedly obtained to perpetually have them detained without trial. Therefore, for meaningful Police SARS reforms to be carried out, all related archaic laws and practices must be abolished.
Calling for specialization of trial courts: There must be carried out urgently and legislatively or administratively in Nigeria the carving out of ‘Criminal High Courts’ and ‘Civil High Courts’. This is for purpose of ensuring speedy and ICT accelerated trial or fair justice dispensation. Additionally, there must end to discriminatory, sectional, hate and racial policing in the country. Racial profiling must give way for plural or balanced, secular and meritorious policing.