Amnesty International calls on the Nigerian Police: “Stop shooting at protesters!”

by Hauwa Gambo

Amnesty International has once again called on the Nigeria Police Force to stop shooting at protesters after at least three were killed and 25 injured in the past two days.

Kayode Ogundamisi posted the international organisation’s plea to the Nigerian authorities on his blog urging them to reform Nigeria’s police regulations in line with international standards, to prevent additional loss of life and ensure that the police only use firearms when it is strictly necessary to protect life.

The Police Force Order 237, which provides guidance in use of firearms by the police in Nigeria permits police officers to shoot protesters, whether or not they pose a threat to life. The Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the authorities to repeal that order claiming it was too broad.

Amnesty International considers it unacceptable that force order 237 instructs police officers in “riot” situations to “single out” and fire at “ring-leaders in the forefront of the mob”. The definition of riot is so vague, that all protesters, however peaceful, are at risk. The force order also directs officers to fire “at the knees of the rioters” and explicitly prohibits firing in the air. Shooting at people, regardless of where an officer aims, is likely to result in death.

“President Goodluck Jonathan must demonstrate a commitment to protect the people. The President must repeal Force Order 237 and immediately announce that the use of lethal force is only allowed when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” the group said.

Amnesty International finally proposed that the police must be provided with non-lethal equipment to properly manage public order situations, even if they turn violent.

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