Check-mating security operatives’ arbitrariness and brazen impunity by Polycarp Onwubiko

There is no doubt about a groundswell of exasperation and discontent over the seemingly arbitrariness and brazen impunity security agencies viz: Nigeria Police, NPF, Directorate of Security Services, DSS, Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC and Nigerian Customs Service, NCS go about their duties.  Apparently, they tend to create the impression that the exigencies of the job make them to perceive rule of law as ‘waste of time’ or that “delay is dangerous”, as it were.
Conscienceless conduct, ex-judicial killings and going scot-free
 Cases abound where these security agencies of government engage in conscienceless conduct, sheer brutality, trigger-happy and invasion of people’s homes in odd hours and business premises. These public officers appear to be unmindful or outright ignorant about rule of law and justiciability of fundamental human rights.  Fact remains that public officers should not engage in arbitrary acts in the course of their duties; they have to do their job in accordance with the laws of the land.
Public outcry over NCS’s retroactive policy on vehicle duty payment
The Nigeria Customs Service over indulged in arbitrariness by making a retroactive policy on payment of vehicle duty. The action did not resonate with the rule of law and public morality. Consequently, public outcry compelled the Senate to condemn the policy and reversed it, in addition to summoning the Customs-General [CG] to throw lurid light on the controversial policy.
The refusal of the CG to honour the Senate’s invitation confirmed the trend of arbitrary acts and brazen impunity characteristic of para-military/security agencies.
Similar arbitrariness and impunity played out on the mid-night of February 22 when the Customs men invaded Cairo market at Sango-Ota in Ogun state. The doors of 60 shops were smashed open and about 18,000 bags of foreign rice, jerry cans of vegetable oil were carted away.
In another event of mindless invasion, angry youths took to the streets and barricaded both sides of the Lagos-Abeokuta express way with heavy objects. The NCS’s invasion of shops in Shagamu led to the death of four people; and as usual nothing will come out of the killing of innocent souls in terms of sanction from the judiciary.
 The NCS, following public revulsion, suspended the obnoxious policy. The acting public relations officer, Joseph Attah, said: “Following the unnecessary tension generated as a result of misconception and misrepresentation of the NCS planned motor duty payment, the leadership of the National Assembly and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col’ Hameed Ali [rtd], met with a view to resolving the impasse.
“They both agreed that the proposed motor duty payment, though in line with the provision of Customs and Excise Management Act [CEMA] Cap C.45, LFN 2004, should be put on hold while the Senate Committee on Customs & Excise interfaces with the NCS for further discussions. While payment of duty on vehicles or indeed dutiable imported items remains a civic responsibility of every patriotic Nigerian, NCS management has directed that the exercise be out on hold while expressing readiness to engage the Senate committee on further discussions to bring them on board to understand the importance of the exercise to national security and economy.”  
In 2015, the DSS in Anambra state invaded May-Roses Hotel, Amawbia and brutalized the proprietor, Chief Ifeanyi Nwokoye and the wife for failing to kow-tow before them to answer frivolous questions on foreign medical team who were invited by government and lodged in the hotel. Nwokoye being well-heeled financially went to court and got judgment with handsome award.
Last year, DSS invaded the residences of Judges and broke the gates and doors in the dead of the night in search of bribe money. The reason for outright condemnation of the act by the public was that the job could have been carried out early in the morning and gotten the same evidence. 
Perhaps, time has come for government to take a hard look at the operational modalities of security agencies which which subject people to what are observed in autocratic, theocratic and military regimes where fundamental human rights, democratic ethos and courtesies are thrown to the dogs.
Why should the aggressive security agents feeling helpless to disarm Fulani herdsmen?
The Police engage in brutal manhandling of suspects and even extra-judicial killings mainly in the southern part of the country. They are merely subjected to internal disciplinary procedure which more often than not is slap on the wrist. They are never charged to court to be meted condign punishment due to sectional and ethno-religious fault-lines.
The same aggressive security men feel ‘helpless’ in confronting and disarming Fulani terrorists in the guise of herders, wielding AK-47 with which they rape, maim, kill and burn property of Christians in Southern Kaduna, middle-belt and southern part of the country.
 In the same brazen impunity, the Army, Navy, Air-force men never reckon with the rule of law and resort to killing and brutalizing ‘bloody civilians’ at slightest pretence and go scot-free due to ethno-religious sentiment. They go scot-free since the judicial system in the country is nothing to write home about.
FRSC hijacks state governments sources IGR due to quasi-federal practice
In true federal system, agencies like the FRSC ought to be state controlled and not federal government controlled. Due to arbitrariness and brazen impunity, the agency which ought to be controlling traffic on the major roads and expressway, hijacked production and issuance of vehicle plate numbers and motor driving license.
 Due to senile judicial system, state governments lost a very lucrative source of internally generated revenue and go with begging bowls to Abuja every month for hand-outs. This is the fall-out of quasi and false federal practice which is shamelessly sustained by the caliphate; leading the country to run a recessionary economy and at the precipice of a failed state.
Imperative of law makers being abreast of laws pertaining to their duties to avoid embarrassment
The Senate, apart from succeeding to reverse the controversial policy on retroactive payment of duty on vehicles is at daggers-drawn with the C-G, NCS over the imperative of adorning service regalia. A lawyer and former chairman of Dunukofia local government area, Clems Ezika said that the CG should be wearing the service uniform since he cannot leave the impression that he is above the law. He said: “Since he is the head of the NCS, he must lead by example; what of the IGP; it is a political appointment and he wears uniform. If any political appointment has any ethics, you have to bear it.”
 Former labour activist, Charles Onyeagba was said: “One is inclined to ask which is more important, the ill-though-out directives by the Customs on retroactive duty on imported cars or the wearing of service uniform? Is there a law requiring politically appointed CGs to adorn uniform? How can a retired Army Officer wear the rank of a Customs Officer even though he is Head of that Establishment? His job does not need uniform.”
The publicity secretary of APC, Anambra state, Okel Madukife does not see anything wrong in the CG adorning service regalia. He said: “They should wear uniform at their discretion on daily duties but compulsory on ceremonial outings save for intelligence officers.”
However, a prominent lawyer, Femi Falana advised the law makers to be serious with over-sight functions and abreast with laws pertaining to their duties. He said: “The timely intervention of the senate to the policy of the NCS to compel all vehicle owners to pay appropriate duties has once again questioned the extent of the oversight powers of the national assembly.
“There is no legal or moral basis for the arrogance of power being displayed by the senate whose leadership has recently been linked with the illegal importation of a bullet-proof limousine with fake papers to evade the payment of appropriate duties.
“However, the Senate engaged in another illegality when it exceeded its powers by asking the CGC to appear before it in customs uniform. Neither the Constitution nor the Rules of Procedure of the Senate has conferred on it the power to compel the CGC to wear customs uniform when he is not a serving customs officer. Indeed, the directive is a reckless usurpation of the powers of the Board.”
It is necessary that the alleged arbitrariness and brutality of security agents should be subjected to court action since the country practices democratic government with its abiding ethos and values. Court action will effectively restore observation of rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights.

Check-mating security operatives’ arbitrariness and brazen impunity by Polycarp Onwubiko Check-mating security operatives’ arbitrariness and brazen impunity by Polycarp Onwubiko Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Tuesday, April 04, 2017 Rating: 5

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