The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has chastised the Director-General of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi, over his comment in Abuja during the graduation ceremony of the Executive Intelligence Management Course 15 at the National Institute for Security Studies.
It was gathered that Bichi, at the ceremony said: “Those canvassing for human rights are just discouraging the security agencies. Many of these people are doing disservice to the country. My service will not allow anyone to mess up this country.”
Many human rights activists and Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria have railed against the comment.
One of the activists is the Executive Director of RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma who argued that it was important to continue to emphasise the point that law enforcement and security agencies were created by law to enforce the law.
He said: “They are given enormous powers which are regulated by law, especially, human rights provisions. Law enforcement agencies cannot go outside the law to enforce the law. Human rights are meant to regulate and provide safeguards against police and law enforcement exercise of powers. Human rights set the limits to the exercise of police powers. Law enforcement and human rights are not meant to be (and are not) in conflict. They are mutually inclusive. It is said that the police and indeed, law enforcement agencies, are designed and contemplated to be the guardians and protectors of human rights and not their violators. Why do the DSS perceive human rights as impeding their job? It is because they think that law enforcement and human rights are in conflict. They therefore, set their minds on abusing their powers and violating human rights. They feel that they are above the law or in fact, law unto themselves. This is why they frequently and recklessly disregard court orders and continue to hide under the fallacy that national security is primary over the rule of law. This mindset needs to be changed through vigorous and consistent law enforcement and human rights education.”
According to Nwanguma, successive leaderships of the Nigeria Police Force, have acknowledged the principle that the Police is created and regulated by law. “Addressing a public gathering in Abuja in December 2005, then Inspector-General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, stated the doctrine of the Police as follows: ‘It is obvious that the duties of the Nigeria Police Force are a direct consequence of the powers conferred on it by law. It becomes mandatory that the law must regulate the performance of its duties relating to arrest, detention, search, and seizure and the use of force. In other words, these duties must be exercised strictly within the limits prescribed for the Police by law. And any form of exercise of these powers which does not strictly conform to the prescriptions of the law can have unpleasant consequences for the Police Force (as a corporate entity, as well as for the individual Police personnel).’