The Nigerian police are denying allegations by Human Rights Watch that the police and army troops carried out more than 90 summary executions in suppressing violent political and religious rioting in the city of Jos.
Hundreds of people were killed on November 28 and 29 during clashes between Christians and Muslims in reaction to a disputed local election results. Human Rights Watch reportedly said over the weekend that mainly Muslim men and youths were gunned down by men in uniform on the orders of the Plateau State governor.
Agberiebi Akpoebi is the assistant commissioner and first public relations officer for the Nigeria national police. He told VOA the claims by Human Rights Watch are not true.
“In Jos, we actually did witness riots in which different groups which were opposed themselves politically attacked themselves resulting in some deaths and the destruction of property. The security agencies, that’s the police and the armed forces did not carry out any summary executions, but they did ensure that everything was done to stop further killings and the destruction of property,” he said.
Human Rights Watch reportedly said the vast majority of the killings were carried out by a special unit called the Police Mobile Force.
Akpoebi acknowledged the presence of the Police Mobile Force but said they did not carry out any summary executions as alleged by Human Rights Watch.
Although he said he has not read the report, Akpoebi described it as an imagination of Human Rights Watch.
“I have said that such killings did not occur. They are just the imagination of a group of people who under the guise of Human Rights Watch have decided to make such allegations. I have said the crisis in Jos was between groups that were opposed to themselves politically and the security agencies, the police and the army only took steps to ensure that peace returned to Jos. There was nothing like summary killings as alleged in that report. Like I have already said, I have not read the report. And I have assured you that I will do everything to get that report, look at it and then I will probably get back to you if there’s need for further comment,” he said.
The report alleged that most of the killings took place on the same day that the Plateau State governor issued a ‘shoot-on-sight order. Akpoebi denied that the governor gave such orders.
“There was no such order issued, but I do know that the governor of the state appealed to all the warring parties to allow peace to reign in Plateau State. And of course the Nigerian police and other security agencies had a constitutional responsibility to ensure that peace returns,” Akpoebi said.
Akpoebi said the Nigerian police is a transparent organization, and said he the allegations by Human Rights Watch report would be looked into.