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Inter-agency clashes bad for democracy, must be checked now – HURIWA

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Civil Rights Advocacy group, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has raised alarm that undemocratic elements embedded within the diverse law enforcement agencies are instigating the unprecedented rise in clashes and physical confrontations amongst the agencies just so constitutional democracy may collapse.

Speaking against the backdrops of the latest clashes in Kaduna between the Air Force and EFCC and in Yola between the Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Army, HURIWA said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the commander-in-chief must act swiftly to restore professionalism and the highest disciplinary ethics within armed forces, and law enforcement bodies.

Specifically, last Friday there was a faceoff between officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and some personnel of the Nigerian Air Force at the Kaduna Zonal Command of the anti-graft agency.

HURIWA recalled that the NAF personnel were said to have stormed the commission’s office in an attempt to release their colleagues earlier arrested by EFCC operatives for allegedly attempting to forcibly release fraud suspects from custody.

The anti-graft agency noted that its operatives arrested five suspects at an eatery located in the Barnawa area of the state on Monday following credible intelligence about their alleged internet-related fraud activities.

HURIWA said the EFCC spokesman, Dele Oyewale, gave the names of the suspected fraudsters as Favour Itung, Rachael Ande, Zuleiman Haruna, Abubakar Ismaila and Solomon Olobatoke.

HURIWA also recalled that on Wednesday November 22nd 2023, a police inspector, Jacob Daniel, was confirmed dead in the course of a clash between soldiers and policemen at the Adamawa Police Command headquarters in Yola, which was attacked in the early hours of Wednesday by invading soldiers.

HURIWA recalled that the faceoff followed a rift between police operatives and their military counterparts that started in the late hours of Tuesday, according tto information made available.

The Rights group recalled that from information made available, the clash started at a checkpoint around Target Junction in Jimeta and culminated in the attack on the police headquarters within the same Jimeta district of Yola.

HURIWA said it is such a despicable thing for Yola residents to wake up on Wednesday to speculations about the apparent ‘fight’ between the police and military, mostly the attack on the police headquarters.

Reacting on Wednesday morning, the Police Command confirmed the clash between its operatives and military men.

Adamawa Police spokesman SP Suleiman Nguroje, said Commissioner of Police, CP Afolabi Babatola, affirmed what he described as “the recent conflict between Police and Military Officers” at a part of Jimeta called Target Junction, from where it escalated with the attack on the police headquarters elsewhere in Jimeta.

According to the statement, the conflict at Target Junction “resulted in exchange of fire and brutal attack on the Police Facility (command headquarters) and killing of Inspector Jacob Daniel.”

The statement said the CP had ordered an immediate investigation into the matter with a view to ensuring peace and justice.

It added: “The CP warned that attacks on all security officers in the line of duty would no longer be tolerated under whatever guise, as the Command holds the lives of all security personnel sacrosanct, and such unwarranted conflict would be strictly treated in accordance with extant laws.”

Commander of the 23 Armoured Brigade, Brig General Gambo Mohammed, said his men acted to rescue one of their officers taken away by police operatives.

The Commander, giving the perspective of the military in the fracas, said on phone: “Police shot at our soldiers at a checkpoint. A soldier was injured and they (Police) went and hid him. The soldiers went to rescue the soldier they (police) shot and took away. They (Police) shot at us so they too (soldiers) fired back.”

The Rights group also observed that a few hours after President Tinubu assumed office, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Service (DSS) clashed over a right to a property in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Reacting to this growing ugly trend of clashes between agencies of the armed forces and other law enforcement agencies, HURIWA, through the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, has asked President Tinubu to wake up and smell the coffee just as the Rights group suggested that haters of Constitutionalism and democracy who are operatives within those armed agencies, may be promoting these clashes with a view to facilitating the overthrow of the properly constituted democratic government.

Besides, the prominent Civil Society platform, is of the view that the growing number of violent exchanges between diverse law enforcement agencies, is a demonstration that the system is broken down.

“We are appealing to the President, who has the overall command and control of the structures of the armed forces, police and the law enforcement agencies, to take immediate transparent but comprehensive steps, to launch further, better and much more profound investigation into the reason these clashes are happening much frequently, and then activate pragmatic mechanisms to stamp it out”.

HURIWA however asserted that the truth is that, there is a rising erosion of professionalism and discipline in the Law Enforcement agencies including the armed forces.

HURIWA which advocated quick-win but sustainable synergy amongst members of the different security forces and law enforcement agencies, observed that a democracy that harbours unprofessional armed forces and indiscipline law enforcers is a democracy on the brink of disintegration just as the Rights group said everything must be done to stave off all threats against democracy.

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