A recent report by opinion based research foundation, NOIPolls identified the Nigerian police as the worst violators of human rights in Nigeria. The report was carried out around the six-political zone of the country.
According to the report, 30 percent of Nigerians interviewed hold the Nigerian police accountable for the prevalent human rights abuses in the country. It was also stated that 75 percent of Nigerians never reported their cases to any authority or person.
During the course of this research, NOIPolls had to enlighten Nigerians on the meaning of human rights. The majority mistook it for the right to basic amenities, right to good roads, employment and the right to some sort of social safety-net provided by the government. Meanwhile, human rights are defined as “moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected as natural and legal rights in municipal and international law.’’
After educating them, 86 percent of the respondents claimed to be more aware of their basic human rights.
In the past, Nigerians have complained about police brutality. In a litany of videos on social media, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) officials were seen bullying and extorting defenceless civilians, especially Nigeria youths. Nigerians have also accused officials of the agency of invading privacy by demanding access to mobile devices at their discretion.
Nigerians have been very vocal about SARS brutality, a campaign tagged #END SARS# complaining about the operations of the organization and human rights violations. The campaign got the attention of Vice president Yemi Osinbajo. In June 2018 Osinbajo ordered the police inspector to coordinate SARS officials to Seize random operations on the streets and work based on intelligence.
In 2018, The Nigeria police public relations officer Eniola Badmus released a statement encouraging officers to respect the Nigerian people most especially the youths. ‘’ Bad eggs within the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), please be informed that not all good looking young men out there are “yahoo yahoo” boys, a lot of them are young Nigerians “hustling” up and down to make ends meet.’’
In NOIPolls findings, it recommended more awareness and sensitization on fundamental human rights “through seminars, academic works and books that portray such rights as recommended by 15 percent of the respondents.”
Furthermore, the research company called on religious bodies for support. “Sensitisation campaigns, involving religious and traditional institutions, should, at intervals, be carried out to educate or enlighten their subjects on the scope of their rights and how to seek redress when such rights are violated.”
By Damilola Ekpo.