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Monday, August 15, 2022

Police ban on phone search & Corporal Kadiri’s virality - ITREALMS

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Preamble:
About January 2016, Nigerians wake up soon after the new year rave to herald a circular from the Office of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) in Nigeria, banning the men and women of the Police Force from searching mobile phones of civilians without warrant. This also means that it has become illegal for the rank and file of Nigeria Police to attempt to access the phones of Nigerians.

According to the Compliant Response Unit (CRU) in a news bulletin with reference number: CZ:4570/X/FHQ/CRU/VOL.1/1 signed by Officer in-charge of CRU, Force Headquarters, Abuja, then, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Abayomi Shogunle, entitled “Inspector-General of Police Prohibits Officers from Illegal Accessing of Personal Mobile Phones” available to 

ITREALMS quoted IGP Solomon Arase as having warned Police officers who are in the habit of indiscriminate checking of personal information on mobile phones of members of the public to stop such practices with immediate effect.

Shogunle also quoted a Police Circular entitled: "Reports of Alleged Indiscriminate Accessing of Personal Information on Mobile Phone by Police Patrol Teams” dated 31st December, 2015, signed by then Force Secretary, Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) Patrick D. Dukumor, and dispatched to all Police State Commands and Formations nationwide on Monday 4th January, 2016, the IGP directed that severe disciplinary actions would also be taken against any officer(s) and their Supervisors (DPOs, Area Commanders and Sectional Heads) against whom a proven report of illegal mobile phone checks not supported by appropriate court orders or operational exigency is made.

Protect rights of citizens according Section 37:
ITREALMS gathered that all State Commissioners of Police and Formation Commanders were further directed to make the full content of the said Circular known to all officers attached to their respective Commands. 

The Circular also reminded officers to ensure protection of the rights to private and family life as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended with Section 37 of the Constitution which states inter alia, "The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected."

This Circular is sequel to several reports made to the Complaint Response Unit (CRU) by citizens most especially from Lagos, Oyo, Ekiti, Delta, Rivers and Edo States of alleged indiscriminate checking of personal information such as emails, text messages and other forms of communication contents on personal mobile phones by some officers under the pretext of looking for fraudsters.

Shogunle enjoined members of the public not to engage in any form of conduct that could result to use of any form of force by a police officer, rather the CRU should be contacted in respect of any police/citizen contact that are not satisfactory to them. He assured that their quick responses will put smiles on faces of Nigerians.

Corporal Opeyemi Kadiri on prowl for wrong reasons:
Just a few days into the month of August 2022, precisely on the third day, that is, some six years after the proverbial first circular on this kind of conduct by IGP Arase cautioning rank and file; a video of a young men on their way to deliver a job surfaced online with a police officer later identified as Corporal Opeyemi Kadiri molesting the citizen who attempted to remind him of the ban by Police IG in Lagos State.

Following the outcry, Kadiri was summoned alongside a special constable who was on duty with him, whom from all intent and purpose he was coaching how not to become a police officer. But at the time of filing this report, Kadiri has been dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force on the orders of current IGP Usman Alkali Baba.

This came barely nine days after he was summoned with a photo display at the office of the Police Public Relations Officer, Corporal Kadiri, caught pants down in a viral video searching the phone of a young man, harassing and boastful about his wrong doing was confirmed dismissed, according to the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in a statement late Friday.




You’re dismissed Kadiri, says IGP Baba:

“Kadiri, with Force No. 509745, attached to Dolphin Divisional Headquarters, Lagos State Police Command was dismissed with effect from August 12, 2022,” Adejobi said, stressing that his offences include “gross misconduct, disobedience to lawful order and assault on a member of the public captured in a viral video on August 3, 2022.”




The FPRO also said “The dismissed officer who, enlisted into the Force on 6th December, 2016, was caught searching a commuter’s phone by the road side contrary to the directives of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, to that effect. He equally assaulted the commuter who attempted to bring the order to his notice. His dismissal takes effect from today the 12th of August, 2022.”




Civilians have a role:




The Force called on its officers and men to maintain professionalism and civility to members of the public in the discharge of their duties in line with extant laws, as well as beckons on the public to ensure proper conduct in all encounters with police officers to avoid infractions which may be subject to prosecution.




This act by Corporal Kadiri is not the first but has assumed pioneer position with an officer meted with sanctions in full dose.




Noteworthy is that in between the supposed first circular in 2016 on the ban on police searching citizens phone on the street or without any warrant, Corporal Opeyemi Kadiri seems to have been the first known officer to have the wrath of IGP visited upon him for misconduct with respect to this ordeal.




Some industry observers have argued that since the supposed first circular was issued on January 2016 and Kadiri joined in December 6, 2016, he may not known and properly digested the information. However, some other industry players opined that there have been other directives after IGP Arase, even as daily commuters lamented that there are plenty likes of Kadiri on the roads with target on phone and laptop while every young chap especially ones in shorts and punk hair styles are in trouble.

Banned! Don’t search people’s phones, laptops, other electronic devices




ITREALMS recalls that about October 2020, the IGP then, Mr. Muhammed Adamu stopped policemen in mufti from stop and search, mounting roadblocks and even banned policemen from searching people’s phones, laptops among other electronic devices, across the country, especially men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).




The IGP also noted that all operatives of the various special task forces are banned from wearing mufti on duties, as the new directive was contained in a press statement, where he warned that any of the officers who abuse his or her powers in a manner that degrades, endangers or threatens the life and other fundamental rights of the citizens shall be promptly arrested and if found culpable, shall be dismissed from service and even charged to court.




In the statement personally signed by the IG Adamu, “Any police personnel that, henceforth abuses his or her powers in a manner that degrades, endangers or threatens the life and other fundamental rights of the citizens shall be promptly arrested, processed through our internal disciplinary machinery and if found culpable, shall be dismissed from service. In addition, such personnel could be charged to court in consonance with their level of criminal liability in the instance.




Mufti officers banned on routine patrols:

“All the operatives of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), State Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS}, Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Special Tactical Squad (STS), Anti-Kidnapping Squads (AKS) and any other Unit of the Force that operates in mufti under any special nomenclature are banned from routine patrols on the highways and streets.




“Their operational deployments are to be limited to responses to specific security breaches including armed robbery, kidnapping or other violent incidents and in such instance, they must be expressly authorised by the appropriate police authority.




“All the operatives of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS}, State Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT}, Special Tactical Squad (STS), Anti-Kidnapping Squads (AKS) and any other Unit of the Force that operates in mufti under any special nomenclature are also henceforth, banned from engaging in conventional, low-risk duties including stop and search, mounting checkpoints or road blocks, undertaking traffic duties, searching of the persons or assets of any citizens on the streets and other functions which are within the purview of the uniformed conventional police detachments.




Degrading search of mobile phones, laptops, smart electronic devices:

“The indiscriminate, unauthorized, and degrading search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart electronic devices of citizens by the Special Units and all Police operatives of different Formations, Zones, Commands and Units is hereby banned. The only exception is if such an act is in furtherance to a specific case that has been reported and is a subject of criminal investigation in specific Formation, Command, Police Station or Unit. In which case, due process must be followed by the investigating team.




“All recent cases of abuses of power and violation of rights of citizens by FSARS, SARS, IRT, STS and other police Teams should be compiled by the Heads of all Police Formations, Commands and Units and forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General of Police not later than Friday 9th October, 2020.




“The returns to include the Dates of the Incident, Venues of the Incidents, the Special Team Involved, Details of the Officers Involved, Details of the Incident, Fatalities/ Injuries/ Damages (If Any), Actions Initiated by the Head of the Concerned Command, and the Current Status of the Matter.




“The CP X-Squad, Force Provost Marshall (FPM) and IGP Monitoring Unit are to immediately coordinate and deploy joint teams across all the 36 States Commands and the FCT with a view to enforce this order.




Arrest any officer violating this order says IGP:

“Any personnel of the Special Units found violating the order must be arrested and escorted to the Force Headquarters for appropriate actions. Weekly update on this operation must be forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General of Police for review and appropriate directives.




“All Heads of Departments, Zonal Inspectors General of Police, Commissioners of Police, Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers or Sectional Heads are to strengthen their supervisory control procedures and frameworks towards enforcing discipline among all ranks in their jurisdiction as they stand the risk of being held vicariously liable for supervisory ineptitude should any component of this Order be violated by operatives of the Special Units in their Formations/ Commands. In this regard, they are to also set up a Monitoring and Enforcement Teams to give effect to this Order and Directives as a complement to the Team being dispatched from the Force Headquarters.”




Summary:

As much as Corporal Kadiri’s virality may have landed him to dismissal from the Nigeria Police Force, but as posited by some industry watchers, Kadiri may not be alone in this kind of conduct, even as some of them targets students and have to demand upto N2000 before their phones could be released to them.

Regular orientation in this regard, especially on the need to respect the rights of civilians, moreso young men who are determined to be useful by becoming tech-savvy is imperative.

Also, the Nigerian society especially the Police must not forget in a hurry what led to the nationwide #ENDSARS protest in 2020, with foundation on notoriety of the State Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS), which has became an instrument for molestation, harassment of youngmen which often than not ended in killing of such youngstar and tag them criminals and alleged Yahoo! Yahoo! Boys, just to prove a point.

Those who encountered Kadiri in the viral video must be said to be extremely lucky he did not play with the trigger and tag it accidental discharge despite him using the arm in his position to slap the mobile phone.

The IGP Monitoring Team needs to wake up and do more since most of these acts are done or committed largely in the Southern Nigeria. We continue to pray for better understanding of the Police Officers, given the hardship Nigerians are facing nowadays due to terrible economic downturn.




A stitch in time saves nine.

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