From Ighomuaye, Benin
The Edo State Civil Society Organizations (EDOCSO) has expressed its resentment over a statement allegedly credited to the state Commissioner of Police, Abutu Yaro, saying that he would only receive petitions written by lawyers and not civil rights groups.
The group, through its Interim Tec Chairman, Augustine Enabulele, expressed his anger while speaking on what he tagged “Insensitivity of Edo State Police Command of the Nigeria Police towards human rights activists in Benin.
He said the command has enjoyed a robust relationship with the civil rights groups in the state and will continue to enjoy the same as long as the rights of the citizens of the state are protected.
“The publication of the NBA to the effect that, the COMPOL has decided to entertain petitions from only lawyers ‘must’ be refuted or else it becomes accepted as the true position from the COMPOL and we the people shall resist such abuse of public officer in words and actions to save our society from retrogression to the state of nature.
“A complaint can be made by anyone for themselves or on behalf of others in writing as stated in (section 89(3) ACJA) and the command has a responsibility to treat such petition appropriately.
“Quick to note too is that the civil society community has enjoyed the smooth relationship with the NBA in Edo over the years, they must be careful not to allow a crack in the wall.
“Edo State Police Command has enjoyed the robust collaboration with Edo Civil Society Organisations over the years too, this COMPOL should not be different.
“He must realize that Edo state pride itself as the epicentre of civil society vibrancy nationwide.
“The reason is not farfetched, as the only people that waged war against the British and was never cowed.
“The people are very much alive and very knowledgeable about happenings around them per time, as well as their rights and duties as citizens, an attribute that is scarce in some parts of the country.
“We deem it necessary to make this press briefing today in order to tell our Edo Police Commissioner that he is treading in error and needed to take cautions in his activities, to properly reassess his thoughts and perceptions about human rights activists and to be quickly reminded that the office of CP is funded by taxes of the people as such he owes them a respectful service responsibility.
“It is advised he considers the environment he is serving and treat it not like a conquered territory, because “Edo nor be other state” but see the need to respect and synergize with relevant stakeholders to engender cooperation on all fronts to achieving his constitutional duty of ensuring a crime-free Edo state, free of police extortion and suppression of the poor and weak from getting justice, as issues with civil society actors and public servant has never been a pleasant experience, he can ask and take good advice.
“We wish sincerely that our CP doesn’t push us further into this ugly situation that he had tempted us with in our last few meetings with him.
“We like to state again unequivocally that Edo Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSO) is a formidable movement whose activities cut across the nation and outside seeking justice for all human persons and can never be bullied by anyone, institutions or forces”, he said.
Reacting to the allegation, the Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, said the Commissioner of Police, CP Abutu Yaro has never forbidden anyone from writing petitions and bringing the same to him.
He said the Commissioner of Police, Yaro, runs an open door policy and is ever ready to attend to petitions from the citizens of the state.
Nwabuzor urges the citizens of the state and the civil rights groups to disregard such speculation adding that he is in the state to serve everybody.