Rights commission slams shoot-on-sight order

Nigeria’s national human rights body on Monday condemned an order by Inspector-General Tafa Balogun for law enforcers to shoot on sight rioters who attack police stations.

Balogun, who is Nigeria's police chief, issued the order last week in response to a number of recent incidents in various parts of the country during which rioters attacked police stations and set them on fire.

"By the Inspector-General’s directive trigger-happy policemen have now been given a carte blanche to mow down defenceless citizens with impunity," the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said in a statement. "We find the Inspector-General’s fury misplaced because it tends to focus on symptoms rather than the real ailment."

The NHRC said the main reason for the recent attacks on police stations across the country lay with the "pathological quest" of many policemen who "continue to extort money" from motorists and other citizens.

The commission, which was set up in 1996 to monitor violations of human rights, urged Balogun to withdraw the order,describing it as contrary to his oath of office, "a threat to peace and an invitation to anarchy". According to the NHRC, it was an irony that those paid by taxpayers to protect lives and property had decided to take the law into their own hands.