NIGERIA: Lagos police bars constables from bearing armsLAGOS, 6 December 2002 (IRIN) - The police authorities in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, have barred constables and officers less than five years in the force
from bearing arms to reduce the rate of "accidental" shootings of civilians, a senior official said on Thursday.
Emmanuel Ighodalo, the spokesman of the Lagos State police command said the action was in response to incidents in which six civilians were killed in the past one week due to careless use of firearms.
A 28-year-old man and two policemen were killed on Wednesday after a machine gun held by a police corporal discharged bullets when a police van in which he was being conveyed with others ran into a ditch near a crowded bus stop. Several other people sustained bullet injuries.
"The manner the corporal handled his weapon unacceptable to laid down rules," Ighodalo said.
Apart from charging the corporal for gross negligence, the police authorities have also decided to limit the category of policemen allowed to bear weapons, he said.
The incident was the latest in a series within one week in Lagos. On Tuesday a policeman attached to the anti-riot squad allegedly shot and killed a taxi driver over a minor argument. Earlier in the week, another policeman had killed a middle-aged man and injured a teenage girl in a shooting at a meeting of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in a suburb of the city.
The Nigerian police has been provided with more arms by President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government in recent years under a policy aimed at tackling an increasing wave of ethno-religious violence and banditry. The police has indicated its readiness to ensure security in the run-up to elections scheduled for the early part of next year.