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BOKO HARAM: WE'RE INVESTIGATING EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS CLAIM

By NOSIKE OGBUENYI, Abuja

The police authorities are investigating the claim by Al Jazeera, a television news channel based in Doha, Quatar, that unnamed security agents in Nigeria were involved in extra judicial killings against members of the extreme Islamist group known as Boko Haram which unleashed mayhem in Bauchi, Borno, and Kano states last July.

According to the Deputy Police Force Public Relations Officer, Femi Ajayi, a Chief Superintendent of Police, the authorities are worried at the likely negative effect of the footage on the image of both the police force and the nation.

'We are deeply concerned that the broadcast came at a time the Force Headquarters has set up a human rights unit to ensure that all policemen and women observe the dignity of the human person and basic human rights as an article of faith.

'Even though the Boko Haram crisis erupted a few hours after Mr Ogbonna Onovo was appointed the acting Inspector General of Police, he still directed all officers involved in quelling the ferocious Boko Haram uprising against the government and people of Nigeria to protect the wives, children and other weak members of the fanatical sect, as well as male fighters caught in action.

'As a result, hundreds of Boko Haram members were saved and the police went off its way to shelter and feed them in police stations, schools and other public places. The media published photographs of these people saved by the police.

'Indeed, the arrests have proved useful. We have obtained useful intelligence information from them.

'IGP Onovo, well known for due process, sincerely wishes that no Boko Haram leader died during their misguided rebellion because more useful information would have been obtained from them'.

As many as 28 policemen were killed in the Boko Haram uprising, including a Superintendent of Police.17million naira insurance claims were paid to their families in Abuja last week.

'The loss of every police officer on national duty is very painful to me', Deputy Police Public Relations Officer Ajayi quoted Mr Onovo as saying yesterday.

'But more painful to me is the fact that when Boko Haram fighters gratuitously invaded police barracks, they gleefully went after innocent women, children, unborn babies, parents, siblings and other defenceless relatives of police officers.

'The pictures of the slaughtered people carried out against fellow Nigerians look like scenes from the worst of horror films.

'I consider it curious that most citizens have not spared a thought for the families of security agents who sacrificed their lives in order to protect our nation, our constitution, our democracy, our freedom, our multi-religious composition, our march of civilisation and other things we consider sacred but to which Boko Haram is viciously opposed.

'Still, the greatest act of patriotism any person can display in any country the world over is to lay his or her life down for the larger society. This is the sacrifice gallant men and women in the police force make every minute of the day throughout Nigeria'.