Failed policing is the most undoing of the present leadership of the Nigeria Police Force under IGP Usman Alkali Baba and it includes bribery and corruption and lack of, or failure to use modern skills and techniques for criminal investigations. These have given rooms for failed preventive policing, failed intelligence policing, failed detective policing, failed investigative policing and near total resort to jungle justice policing and have further led to chronic culture of commercialized policing, ‘prosecutorial vindictiveness’, hate policing, ethno religious profiling, heavy reliance on hearsay and uninvestigated evidence, false and criminal labeling, stigmatization and police sub culture of corruptive and isolationist individualism such as privatized policing and primitive accumulation of material wealth along duty lines.
Totality of these, in addition to leadership failure on the part of the present Government of Ebonyi State have been responsible for continued abduction and disappearance of the five NELAN Field Engineers since 3rd November 2021 at the construction site of the AfDB funded $150m Ebonyi Ring Road Phase 2 Project located at Effium in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Their high profile abduction and disappearance have lasted for almost three months or ninety days-with nothing concrete coming out of same. While the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force have continued to chase shadows including wastage of public funds and dissipation of much energy on irrelevancies and frivolities, the Government of Ebonyi State is busy dictatorially distracting the public and diverting their attention and has appeared to be exploiting possible loopholes to escape complicity in furtherance of clear abdication of its constitutional and statutory responsibilities. This is to the extent that the reaction of the State Government issued on 21st Dec 2021 was filled with contradictions and self indictments and failed to address the main issues till date.
In all, Intersociety sees nothing than systematic and deliberate efforts by the duo of the Nigeria Police Force and the Government of Ebonyi State to dangerously cover up the heinous and dastardly act. The colossal failure of the Nigeria Police Force including its Ebonyi State Police Command and Force Headquarters’ Departments of Intelligence, Investigations, Operations and Information Communications Technology to unmask the circumstances leading to the five NELAN Engineers’ abduction and disappearance and the criminal citizens, entities or bodies responsible also speaks volume of the chronic decadence that has afflicted the Force in recent years. This is to the extent that ‘hearsay’, ‘trial by ordeal’ and other forms of jungle justice policing have become their modus operandi especially in the Force’s Departments of Intelligence and Investigations.
Diligent investigations and Prosecutions using modern skills and techniques remain the power house of the Criminal Justice System, but in Nigeria of today, jungle justice and commercialized policing have remained the order of the day. Investigation is also the Gateway into Criminal Justice. Pundits and observers have specifically pointed out that they could not remember the last time the Nigeria Police Force updated its Central Crime Registry or issued credible and irrefutable crime investigation reports meant for general public and records or for diligent criminal prosecutions. Instead, Nigeria Police Force has chronically and incorrigibly resorted to ‘prosecutorial vindictiveness’ fueled by hate policing, ethno-religious profiling and commercialization of criminal investigations. This is further understood going by the fact that ‘out of every five citizens accused especially in the Northern minority areas and the Eastern part of Southern Nigeria, at least four are accused falsely with little or no prima facie or circumstantially indictable evidence against him or her. Also in highly commercialized police criminal investigations especially in Eastern Nigeria, it is not only that out of every five accused citizens, four, if not all are falsely accused, but also most of the complainants with lesser financial muscles end up finding themselves in perpetual detention or as “investigated and prosecutable suspects or as prosecuted or dead (killed in custody) suspects”. Same goes with most of the accused citizens with lesser financial muscles. When it comes to most of the ‘complainants or accused citizens with high financial muscles’, reverse becomes the case, or “complainants become the accused and the convicted”.
Intersociety is still not aware, for instance, of the number (if any) of convictions secured by the Nigeria Police Force or Office of the country’s Attorney General relating to those accused of “IPOB terrorism or terrorism financing” since 2015-2017. It is therefore very important to point out that in the case of the abducted and disappeared five NELAN Engineers in Ebonyi State, the Nigeria Police Force Departments of Intelligence, Operations, Information and Communications Technology and Criminal Investigations are the statutory intra agency bodies expected to unmask the heinous and dastardly act. While the duty of the FCIB is to gather requisite intelligence and share or forward same to FCID, the F/ICT and F/OPS are mandatorily required to share their responsibilities with the FCID by aiding them in the areas of electronic detection/investigation and tracking and apprehension of the real suspects and their sponsors as well as aiders and abettors. These were the reason behind our submitted letters to FCID, FCIB and NHRC of 16th Dec 2021.
That is to say that the NPF Department responsible for unmasking the Ebonyi State five NELAN Engineers’ abduction and disappearance and their abductors is the Force Department of Criminal Investigations and its sub departments of Homicide, Anti Kidnapping, Counter Terrorism and Forensic (including criminalistics, pathology, toxicology, physical anthropology, odontology, psychiatry, serology, ballistics, homicide, crime labs, laboratories and victimology). Where the required skills and techniques such as in the areas of electronic policing and law enforcement operations are in short supply in the NPF’s FCID, the Department is bound to seek and secure them from the Departments of ICT and Operations including skills and techniques for electronic intelligence, electronic tracking or detection and electronic investigation which must all revolve around the Triangular of “Crime Scene and its Acts,the Victims and their Reactions/Conditions and the Perpetrators and their Dastardly Acts”.
Finally, the above technical explanations are to further point out clearly that the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force are just beating about the bush in the instant case or rigmaroling in absurdities, irrelevancies and frivolities. As a matter of fact, the Nigeria Police Force, joined by the Ebonyi State Government are deliberately chasing shadows and covering up the heinous act. Investigations into the dastardly act must also not be seen or treated as the private property of the Nigeria Police Force and the Ebonyi State Government. Rather, they are mandatorily publicly owned and funded and to this extent, the two State Actors owe all Nigerians including the NELAN Engineers Firm and Families of the abducted and disappeared as well as members of the Int’l Community mandatory obligation by publicly briefing them on weekly basis concerning the findings so far made from their investigations, if any, into the heinous act.
The Investigative Findings under demand must include: the whereabouts or locations of the abducted and disappeared Engineers, whether they are still alive or killed in captivity by their abductors/captors, why they were abducted and disappeared, who and who was responsible for abducting and disappearing them, the whereabouts or locations of their abductees or slayers (whether in custody or facing investigation/prosecution or still at large), who procured them to perpetrate the dastardly act (state actors or troublesome non state actors?) and who and who has been aiding and abetting their heinous act. Such investigative findings or their highlights must be weekly made public by the DIG-FCID, joined by the CP of Ebonyi State Police Command and ACP/DCP in charge of the State CID. The Ebonyi State Government and the present leadership of the Nigeria Police Force are strongly reminded that crimes have no expiring dates to be investigated and prosecuted and not even the ‘immunity of office’ can stop same.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair
Obianuju Joy Igboeli Esquire, Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law
Chidimma Eva Udegbunam Esquire, Head, Campaign and Publicity
Comrade Chibueze Nwajiaku, Deputy Head, Policing and Law Enforcement