Muyiwa Adejobi, the Force Public Relations Officer, has said Nigeria Police Force does not condone indiscipline and violation of citizens’ rights by police officers.
The police spokesman had in a tweet on Saturday, said, “Even if a policeman on uniform slaps a civilian, the civilian has no right to retaliate more so if he’s on the uniform, it’s an act of disrespect to Nigeria, to beat an officer on uniform, the disrespect is not to the policeman but to our nation and it’s a crime as enshrined in our criminal laws.”
The tweet generated negative responses, with human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, saying assault on civilians by policemen attracts 25-year imprisonment.
However, in a statement on Monday, the FPRO said his tweet was “misquoted”.
The statement reads, “It has become pertinent to emphasize that the Nigeria Police Force has been a vanguard of sustainable democracy in the country via the aggressive protection of the fundamental rights of the citizens and other members of the Nigerian society. This has been evident in the continuous sanctions meted out by the Police authority on officers engaged in violation of individual rights, as well as extant laws when reported via any of the available police complaint channels.
“The Force Public Relations Officer reacted to a trending video where some individuals grievously assaulted a police officer, and attempted to disarm the officer by dragging his loaded AK47 rifle, restating the law on serious assault as enshrined in Section 356 (2) of the Criminal Code Act of Southern Nigeria with explanations. However, some media platforms deliberately misquoted it as endorsing violence by uniformed officers against members of the public.
“Where a public officer acts contrary to the provisions of extant laws, there are channels to report such conduct and get prompt justice, particularly in the Nigeria Police Force. In the extant case, the individuals resorted to self-help and assaulted the officers, attempted to snatch the officers’ firearms, and in so doing breached the law. It is trite that two wrongs cannot make a right, as such whatever the provocation, the action of the individuals were wrong in all ramifications as they would have reported the matter for prompt action. Emphasis on this has been misrepresented across media platforms as a single tweet in a thread was mischievously read out of context with a mischievous caption “No Nigerian Has the Right to Retaliate when Police Slaps You… “.
“The Force urges well-meaning members of the public all of whom are strategic stakeholders in policing across the country to disregard the malicious publications as the current police administration is committed to ensuring that the rights of all citizens, uniformed or not, are protected across board.
“Furthermore, the Force urges the Nigerian populace not to take laws into their hands whenever they have unpleasant encounters with police officers. Complaints arising from such encounters can be reported via the Police Public Relations Officers (PPROs) of the various Commands, the Complaint Response Unit (CRU) and via official Police accounts across social media platforms. Similarly, the idea of pouncing on and beating up Law Enforcement Agents carrying out their public duty by members of the public whom they serve is criminal and disrespectful to our beloved nation, Nigeria, and must not be allowed to exacerbate.”