Mohammed Adamu has said Police officers have the power to kill in an internal memo and to use live rounds to prevent illegal acts amongst citizens.
Mr. Adamu said in the November 6 police signal that officers should hold no responsibility if they kill anyone for trying to resist arrest or escape from police custody.
The police chief cited Section 33 (2) of the Constitution, which said no one would be deemed to have been deprived of life if the person was killed while evading arrest, fleeing from detention, taking part in insurrection or rioting.
While Mr. Adamu’s directive appeared to have the backing of the law, rights activists feared it could further embolden officers to continue fatal attacks on civilians.
“The IG should not be issuing a directive remembering police officers on how to kill and justify it,” rights campaigner Ibrahim Kaita told Peoples Gazette on Saturday afternoon.
Mr. Adamu has laboured over the past week to boost the morale of officers following recent thug violence that left hundreds of police stations burnt across the country. Dozens of police officers were also killed in the violence, which followed Nigerian Army’s killing of #EndSARS protesters in Lagos on October 20.
But coming at a time when police officers are facing resistance from #EndSARS protesters, Mr. Adamu’s order could prove counterproductive for its potential misrepresentation, Mr. Kaita said.
“We sympathise with the police for the officers lost to hoodlums,” Mr. Kaita said. “But we know that the police have a history of extra-judicial killing and officers who are readily happy to pull the trigger could misinterpret the IG’s order to start killing people.”
“Under our outdated constitutional provisions, the police have too much latitude to kill anyone and make up a label that fits under the Constitution to justify it,” Mr. Kaita said. “Given the ongoing negotiation between government and protesters, the IG’s memo is very dangerous and in bad faith.”
Police spokesman Frank Mba did not return multiple requests seeking comments about the IG’s controversial signal on Saturday.