By Christiana Ekpa
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the House would not accept extrajudicial killings, harassment, intimidation and other forms of violence unleashed on innocent citizens by some men of the Nigeria Police.
The Speaker described as unfortunate a situation where some men of the Nigeria police, saddled with the constitutional responsibility of protecting the lives and property of the people, turn out to be against the citizens.
Declaring open a public hearing by the House Committee on Police Affairs chaired by Rep Usman Bello Kumo, the Speaker bemoaned the recent alleged extrajudicial killing of a footballer by men of the Nigeria police in Sagamu, Osun State.
”More than any other institution of the State, it is the police force that relates to the citizens daily. In many communities across Nigeria, the Police Force is the only representative of the Nigerian state, and the connection between our citizens and the state is often defined by their interactions with the Nigeria Police.
“It is unfortunate and entirely unacceptable that the relationship between the police and many of these communities is now defined by fear, mutual antagonism and an absolute loss of faith in the ability of the police to protect and to serve.
“In the last few days, we have all witnessed as the city of Sagamu in Ogun State has been unsettled by an orgy of violence resulting from the extrajudicial killing of a young footballer by officers of the Nigerian Police.
“Citizens who gathered to protest this killing were soon themselves at the receiving end of police bullets. This is not an isolated incident. We are daily inundated with news reports of interactions between citizens and the police resulting in the injury and death of those citizens.
“Reports of police harassment of young people have become so rampant that they barely even break through the news cycle except when public anger becomes so great that it results in a breakdown of law and order.
“We can no longer stand for this, and we will not. This House of Representatives has a responsibility to speak for our citizens and we will continue to do so even when it is inconvenient,” Gbajabiamila said.
Gbajabiamila also said that although the public hearing with the theme ‘Repositioning the Nigeria Police for an Enhanced Delivery’ might come with some uncomfortable truths, the Nigeria Police should take home the contributions of stakeholders as they would be the ultimate beneficiaries.
The Speaker noted that when the agencies that should protect the lives and property of the people “become predatory, they lose the faith of the public and become incapable of delivering on this responsibility.