Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (simply called YEAC or ADVOCACY CENTRE); a Rivers State-based nongovernmental organization has commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu for the withdrawal of Police attachments to the Rivers State Task Force on Street Trading, Illegal Markets and Motor Parks as reported by Africa Independent Television (AIT) last night. The immediate cause of the IGP’s action is the alleged killing of a female Police Officer, Sergeant Lovender Elekwachi, a nursing mother who was posted from the Eneka Police Station for traffic duties at the Eneka Town junction/market area of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area on April 23 by a male police colleague, Sergeant Bitrus Osaiah attached to the Task Force which is also enforcing government directives for market closures over Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in the State.

ADVOCACY CENTRE’S endorsement of the IGP’s decision becomes necessary as it would forestall further killing of citizens by armed officers attached to the Task Force.  As an organization, we do not also think that the Task Force needs Police escort before it can perform its duties if they were civil enough in the discharge of their duties. We believe that the armed Police officers attached to the Task Force is part of the reason why they have been carrying out their activities with a reign of terror, abusing the rights of citizens; harassing, torturing, intimidating, extorting and killing members of the public with impunity. It is sadly on monitoring reports of human right abuses and violations involving the Task Force that between August 21st 2019 when it was inaugurated and April 24, 2020, less than eight (8) Months of its existence, the Task Force had allegedly contributed to and killed at least four (4) persons and also lost some of its personnels to reprisal attacks due to their iron-fist approach to supposed civil duties.

These include alleged the shooting of a taxi driver on October 11, 2019 by a Police Officer attached to the Tax Force while drivers plying Mile 3/Choba routes were protesting the Task Force’s assault of their members; alleged knocking down and killing of a vehicle loader, one Mr. Amadioha Topgel, 26, at Rumuigbo area by a speeding van of the Task Force driving one-way/against traffic on 1st January, 2020; alleged torturing leading to the death of a Bureau De Change Operator along Aba Road on February 25, 2020 and now a female Police Sergeant allegedly killed by a Police Officer also attached to the Task Force among others. On the other hand, the Task Force lost one of its personnels, Mr. Promise Eligbu Ordu on April 10, 2020 after he was allegedly stabbed by a truck driver at Trans-Amadi axis of Port Harcourt as they engage some Northern Truck drivers in a fight over illegal parking.

It is regrettable to note that few weeks after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) reported on April 16 that the Police and other security personnels enforcing lockdown which began on March 30 have killed more Nigerians than Corona Virus Diseases, more atrocities are still been committed and giving morale to the Rivers State Task Force to strengthen violations of human rights in the cause of their duties.

While ADVOCACY CENTRE condoles with the family of late Sergeant Lovender Elekwachi and the Nigeria Police, her death is regrettably an exchange for the life of another innocent civilian that would have again been killed by the trigger-happy Police Officer attached to the Task Force but divine intervention that turned the gun to a fellow Police Officer so that the Police can also taste the meal that they always prepare for unsuspecting members of the Public.

ADVOCACY CENTRE calls on the Rivers State Police command and the new Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan not to make the same mistakes of his predecessor by sweeping sensitive matters like this under the carpet but ensure that justice is served for the killing of late Sergeant Lovender Elekwachi and related pending cases to serve as deterrent to other killer cops. We also call on the Rivers State Governor, Barr. Nyesom Wike to ensure that the Task Force continues with its work despite the IGP’s withdrawal of Police attachments while those who refused to work without Police attachment should be shown the way out. After all, the Task Force to be set up by the Governor through the Executive Order RVSG-2 N0. 3 to man the State boundaries is not going to bear arms but perform their duties just as it has been difficult for arms to be approved for the Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch backed by an Act of the State Assembly.

ADVOCACY CENTRE call for an end to all forms of human rights abuses involving the Police and the Rivers State Task Force on Street Trading, Illegal Markets and Motor Parks.



Executive Director, ADVOCACY CENTRE,

April 25, 2020.

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