Police distance self from military closure of Abuja Plaza

The Nigerian Police has distanced itself from the closure of the Banex Plaza in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which was effected by the military, following assault on two soldiers by a mob suspected to be workers at the plaza.

Penpushing reports that the spokesperson of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command Josephine Adeh, said the police were not involve in the shutdown of the plaza located in Wuse area of the city.

‘With all due respect, you know very well that Police are not involved why all this. Channel all your complaints to the military pls’ Adeh was quoted saying in response to a WhatsApp message earlier sent to him.

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Penpushing further reports that in similar vein, spokesperson of the Federal Capital Territory Administration Anthony Ogunleye denied knowledge of the exercise of the closure which took place on Tuesday

The Army spokesperson Onyema Nwachukwu, it is recalled, however, explained that the shutdown was to allow for an investigation of the assault, but number of concern citizens have raised eyebrow about the development.

Penpushing also reports that a human rights lawyer, Mojirayo Ogunlana, declared the military’s action in a democratic setting is a total breach of the rule of law and constitution and an encroachment on police duties.

“Nigeria is not under military rule. You cannot in an attempt to address one issue shut others out of their legitimate businesses. The idea that the innocent must suffer with the guilty is clearly autocratic, the lawyer stated.

‘If you must shut any shop, it should be the one from which the infraction took place. Not the entire plaza now. Come on! This doesn’t make any sense. The measure taken to address the ‘legitimate’ aim is clearly and profoundly disproportionate”.

‘So, the question in my mind is this, is there a military junta in place? No. So why is the military encroaching on the power of the police, you have just started here that the police are not aware of any of such’.

“Because the military cannot, on its own, by itself, decide to shut down a market. Because some of your personnel were involved in an infraction does not give you that power. It has not even put it upon them’, Ogunlana added

Penpushing reports that the human rights lawyer explained that the military should have taken their complaints to the police who can approach the court to secure an order to seal the plaza, rather than acting illegally.

‘There is due process in place. Even if there is a problem, go straight to the court to do the required thing, to ask for the required warrants or order to seal off maybe a portion of the market for the purpose of investigation. This is the police (duty) and not the military, so this is arbitrary.”

‘This is uncalled for, this is against the rule of law, and that is unfortunate because the rule of law has been terribly abused since the democratic dispensation. The military has to know that it is not their place to take action by themselves. You have to submit to the authority on ground. And the authority on ground says that it is a democratic society.”

‘Meaning that if you have any complaints, you go straight to the police, you complain to the police and then you give the police the opportunity to do what they are empowered to do. And in this case, they are the ones to go to the court and file the necessary document, ask for the necessary order before the honourable court and then if the court believes that there is a genuine, cogent reason for such an application to seal off an economy, we should not forget, to seal off an entire economy”

Penpushing further reports that Ogunlana described the shutdown of the plaza which houses dozens of shops and businesses as a shutdown of an economy, particularly when Nigerians are passing through hardship.

‘That place is an economy. Nigerians are going through unbearable times at this time in history. The military feels that somebody has offended some of them and then you went to shut down the market. It is wrong morally, it is wrong legally, it is unlawful, it is unconstitutional and should not be allowed in a democratic setting’, she emphasised

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