October 3, 2019 / 4:51 PM / 14 days ago

Nigerian police to get stun guns, new rules of engagement in push to reduce deaths

FILE PHOTO: A flag of the Nigeria Police Force flies next to the Nigerian national flag at the Louis Edet House, headquarters of the police in Abuja, Nigeria December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigerian police plan to acquire stun guns and revise their rules of engagement in an effort to curb the use of deadly force, the inspector general of the force said on Thursday.

The West African country, which plays a pivotal role in regional stability, is riven by security problems ranging from armed bandits who have forced 40,000 people to leave the northwest in recent months to communal violence between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities in central states.

Last month, a United Nations special rapporteur described Nigeria as a “pressure cooker of internal conflict” due to security problems and what it said was an excessive use of lethal force by police and military.

Mohammed Adamu told a gathering of senior officers in the capital, Abuja, that he had “initiated actions” toward deploying less lethal weapons - commonly known as stun guns - for low-risk police operations.

“This is with the intention of addressing public concerns on misuse of firearms by the police with its attendant consequences on lives and effect on the attainment of our community policing vision,” Adamu said, according to a copy of the speech distributed to media.

He did not say how much the stun guns would cost.

Adamu said the force had also revised and simplified “Force Order 237”, which outlines its rules of engagement.

He did not specify what changes were made, but said the redesign would ensure the “protection of fundamental human rights” in policing.

The force is also arranging special training for certain units, including the counter-terrorism unit, anti-robbery and kidnapping squads, and criminal investigation specialists.

Reporting by Libby George; Editing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Mark Potter

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