Popular human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has criticised the Nigerian Police Force over the arrest and parading of members of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, including its commandant, Dickson Akor.
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was speaking with journalists in Abuja after securing the release of the Peace Corps commandant from police custody on Saturday.
He said that the police should not have embarked on the operation in the first place as there exists two separate court injunctions prohibiting them from doing so.
The senior lawyer described the police invasion of the headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria as illegal and unconstitutional as the organisation was known to the laws of the country.
He added that he was also negotiating for the re-opening of the office of the Peace Corps of Nigeria.
“Generally, the parade of criminal suspects in the country by the police is illegal,” Falana said.
“In this case, apart from the registration of its trustees under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, there are two judgments of the Federal High Court restraining the police from harassing and intimidating members of the organization.
“They must be allowed to operate under the law and we will get to that state where the police will appreciate that Nigeria is under-policed.
“We need volunteers, young men and women who should be organised by the state to handle those duties that will not require the intervention of the Police,” he said.
Falana pointed out that crimes such as terrorism, herdsmen attack, armed robbery and kidnapping are rife in the country due to lack of enough police personnel.
He said: “As at 2011, the Federal Government of Nigeria decided to engage the services of 380,000 police personnel, between then and now, only 10, 000 are being employed.
“There is no way you can police about 180 million people with barely 380, 000 police personnel out of which about 120, 000 are guarding the elite and corporate bodies in the country.
“I thought the police should have embraced a body like the Peace Corps of Nigeria to make their job easier because the Nigerian Police operate under very difficult situations.
“Most communities are not policed, so herdsmen move into farms and kill people.
“Nigerians have not developed a litigation culture of challenging the killing of every citizen either directly or indirectly for which the government can be blamed,” Falana said.
Recall that the police had on February 28, in a joint operation with the Department of State Services, DSS, and the Nigerian Army, raided the headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria in Abuja.
They arrested the corps’ commandant, Dickson Akor as well as 48 other members of the corps, while at least two persons were hospitalized as a result of injuries allegedly inflicted on them by the security officials.
The Police later released a statement through its spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, saying that the operation was carried out based on an intelligence report which indicated that the Peace Corps and other similar groups were acquiring weapons and conducting covert trainings in different locations across the country.