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Group bemoans rights abuse in Plateau

By Segun Olaniyi, Abuja
23 May 2020   |   4:05 am
A civil society organisation, Global Peace and Life Rescue Initiative (GOPRI) has condemned the excesses of law enforcement agents, particularly men of the Operation Safe Haven...

A civil society organisation, Global Peace and Life Rescue Initiative (GOPRI) has condemned the excesses of law enforcement agents, particularly men of the Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) of the Nigerian Army, in dealing with innocent citizens in Plateau State, saying authorities must rise up immediately to stop the dastardly act.

The group’s reaction came against the backdrop of the recent killing of an innocent 300 level student of the University of Jos, Rinji Peter Bala, by personnel of the internal security outfit in the state.

Executive Director of GOPRI, Amb. Melvin Ejeh, in a statement on Friday in Abuja, said in as much as his organisation detested crime in whatever way, caution must be taken in handling citizens, stressing that the killing of innocent persons in the state had become too numerous to be condoned.

According to him, the state government and other authorities’ concerned must do something to stop what he called the “inhumane acts” before the ugly situation got out of hand.

“We wish to strongly condemn the reckless, barbaric, senseless, and continued gross abuse of human rights in Plateau State by men of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) without any known reprimand,” the statement said.

Ejeh noted that the gruesome murder of Bala, an undergraduate of the University of Jos in cold blood was without any form of provocation, adding that the dastardly act by unprofessional personnel of OPSH must not only be investigated but the culprit must be prosecuted accordingly.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of this young leader who was cut short in his prime. We are demanding within seven days from the date of the incident the summary dismissal from the force and handing over of the suspect to the Nigeria Police Criminal Investigation Department for prosecution,” he said.

GOPRI, according to Amb. Ejeh, was “working with other organisations towards instituting a fundamental human rights enforcement action against the OPSH in court.”

He, however, commended the new Commander of OPSH, Major General Okonkwo, for instituting new measures aimed at halting the reckless actions of the internal security personnel.

“We wish to strongly commend the new Commander of Operation Safe Haven, Major General CC Okonkwo, who has demonstrated a genuine sense of responsibility and commitment to human rights and professional conduct.

“This is the first time in a while that OPSH will openly admit to the killing of an innocent victim, and also immediately take to custody the offender for discipline,” he said, adding that: “This is a sharp departure from what had been known with OPSH where families of victims and citizens were intimidated and culprit shielded.”

“We are glad about this show of commitment to justice, transparency and sincerity in handling the issue of human rights abuse in the state,” Ejeh said.

According to him, “We are further convinced that the era of willful murder, cover-up, and intimidation of victims family is now over on the Plateau.
“This, we think, is a step in the right direction and we strongly commend the new commander and his men for charting a new course of Justice,” he stressed.

He condoled the families of the bereaved over the said incidence.

“Our heart goes out to the family and friends of Mr. Rinji Peter Bala, the people and government of Plateau State,” he said.