JUST IN: Avoiding Extra-judicial Killings

Avoiding Extra-judicial Killings

Avoiding Extra-judicial Killings


Recently, owners, shoppers, commuters and even security personnel scampered for safety as an angry mob went amok at the popular Wuse market, of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), burning and shops indiscriminately, displaying what they felt was justified anger over the killing, by security operatives, of a hapless hawker.

By the time a reinforcement of well-armed security personnel arrived the scene, the damage had been done. Innocent shop owners and traders have been left stranded, to bear the loss of burnt cars and shops for a crime they knew nothing about.

The reason for the rage, utterly misplaced and irresponsible, in our view, was, however, all too familiar. It was ignited by the mindless killing of a hawker by a trigger-happy security operative, this time, an operative of the Correctional Service.

As the story goes, an eyewitness said a hawker, arrested in the market vicinity and tried in a mobile , attempted to escape punishment, but was shot and killed by a Warden. That avoidable killing caused a section of the market, specifically the park at the northern side of the entrance, to be set aflame by an irate mob that was out to avenge the untimely death of that anonymous hawker. The Police has since confirmed this narrative.

The timely response by the Police to a distress call was not enough to prevent the needless disaster. But they were able to barricade the entrance to prevent movement into the market just as they shot sporadically and fired tear gas to disperse the mob.

RELATED: Wuse Market Shut After Riot, Fire Outbreak

Sadly, killings like the one that sparked the Wuse market inferno are not new in Nigeria. We recall the senseless killing of the in . Also, the EndSars movement remains a major signpost in the quest to stop these extrajudicial killings. Years after these very sad incidents and more, some of those entrusted to protect lives are yet to understand the sacredness of their responsibility. They have, for whatever reason, continued to display this sadistic behavior.

The inexplicable tendency on the part of and women in uniform to apply maximum force in matters that are essentially civil, have become a real cause for concern. There have been calls for a reorientation of these security officers on how to manage situations that involve unarmed civilians. In some serious cases, like the one under review, it has become pertinent to insist on the reassessment of their psychological and emotional status. 

We understand that the job of protecting lives, property and keeping the peace isn't easy, especially in a clime where poor governance seems to contribute immensely to making resort to crime a viable option. But must human life be wasted so recklessly in the process?

Similarly, we empathize with the service men and women who feel that effecting rewards for years of patriotic service is a struggle. There is, also, no doubt that functioning in a frustrating socio-economic environment in a country like Nigeria, isn't just hard, it drains one emotionally, physically and psychologically. Still, it is important for them to realize what they signed up to do, that is to say, serving the public, requires a lot of sacrifice to remain humane and dedicated.  

Nevertheless, nothing justifies the killing of those the security operatives swore to protect. The peculiarity of this job, considering the bearing of firearms, requires a robust mindfulness that encapsulates the ideals of service to humanity.

As a newspaper, we call upon the security hierarchy to revisit the psychological evaluation of the men in uniform across board. The soundness of their mental health is as important as the quality of service required of them.

Also, the recruitment process should be revisited. Yes, there has been clamour for increasing the number of the security operatives, rightly so. We, however, urge that the screening process should be as thorough as possible.

Besides the physical requirements, to be drafted into the service, establishing passion on the part of the recruits and interrogating their state of mind to ensure mental balance, is essential. It is high time we moved beyond making security platforms an all-comers affair. We should look beyond the mere quest to justify a quota system and establish a fundamental basis for recruiting persons who would occupy these sensitive positions. This task must not be left to the whims and caprices of politically- exposed persons or other mundane circumstances.

It is also imperative to review the welfare of the security personnel so as to improve it. This much cannot be emphasized enough. For decades the poor welfare system, especially for the rank and file, has been a major crisis ignored. This must be looked into urgently. We cannot afford to have overly frustrated legitimate arm-bearing persons turning their weapons on those they are meant to protect.

But all of this advocacy for the welfare of uniformed personnel would make sense when all men and women in uniform act in accordance with the oath they swore to.


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