Nigeria Police Adopt Code of Conduct to Tackle Abuses

The Nigeria police introduced a code of conduct for its officers to deal with allegations of extra-judicial killings and other abuses made by rights groups including Amnesty International.

The code is a “set of guiding principles” and “standards of behavior” for all police officers in the country, Mohammed Abubakar, inspector-general of police, said in the document presented to the public yesterday in Abuja, the capital. The document identifies measures police authorities are taking to conform with international conventions, according to Abubakar.

Police in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and most populous nation of more than 160 million people, have faced allegations of rights violations including unlawful executions, torture and excessive use of force made by local and international human rights groups.

A regulation that empowers officers to shoot suspects that attempt to escape or resist arrest, is frequently abused and allows the police get away with murder, Amnesty International said. At least 7,000 citizens have been unlawfully killed by the police within the last decade, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch

A new code of conduct for the police “is not a magic wand but it’s a beginning,” Chidi Odinkalu, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said today phone from Abuja. “It is recognition by the management of the police that something needs to be done.”

Amnesty International is concerned the code “does not explicitly state that use of force must be lawful and proportionate as well as necessary,” Lucy Freeman, London-based deputy director for the group’s Africa Program, said in an e-mailed statement. “There must be adequate systems and mechanisms in place alongside training and regulations on the use of force and firearms to make sure that police apply the relevant UN standards in their daily work.”

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