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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Nigerian police under fire
Police conduct searches in 2000
Nigeria's police have a reputation for corruption
A policeman is still on the run in Nigeria after allegedly killing two students in Lagos last Saturday.

Seven of his colleagues accused of taking part in the killing have been charged with conspiracy and murder.


It is better for 20 criminals to escape justice than for one innocent citizen to be shot

Police chief Tafa Balogun
The head of the police force, Tafa Balogun, warned senior officers on Wednesday that from now on, they would be held liable for the murder of civilians by their subordinates.

The announcement came as women threatened to walk the streets naked in protest at the killings if the police authorities did not call their staff to order.

Dismissal

Saturday's incident brings to four the number of civilians shot by police since Mr Balogun's shoot-on-sight campaign against robbers was launched earlier this year.

The two youths were killed at a police checkpoint in Ikoyi, a residential district popular with expatriates.

Seven policemen appeared before a magistrate's court in the central district of Yaba on Wednesday.


We women will embark on a rally naked, to protest police brutality against our children

Abiola Odunbaku Regional MP

They will be remanded in Ikoyi prison until 15 July, when the case comes up again for hearing, according to Rhythm FM.

Six of them have already been dismissed from their jobs, and the fate of the seventh officer will be decided by the police service commission, the radio said.

But the policeman who allegedly fired the deadly shot has not yet been apprehended.

Nigerians have criticised Mr Balogun's "Operation Fire for Fire", saying it emphasises force instead of improving the skills of the police, which is seen as corrupt and inefficient, Reuters news agency says.

"If the inspector-general of police does not do something to check the trigger-happy policemen, we women will embark on a rally naked, to protest police brutality against our children," a member of the regional parliament, Abiola Odunbaku, told the Punch newspaper.

Girl shot

But the chief of police announced that officers would now be held responsible for the murder of civilians by their staff.

He said they "will be held liable for any reported case of shooting in any police command area, and police stations".

Remains of a robber
Vigilantes have sprung up to fight crime

He also vowed to flush "trigger-happy policemen from the force with ignominy".

"It is better for 20 criminals to escape justice than for one innocent citizen to be shot. This is the underlying factor in Operation Fire For Fire," he said.

Mr Balogun, who has been in the police force for 25 years, was appointed to his post in March, a move which the Nigerian authorities hoped would restore public respect for, and confidence in the police force.

But little has changed and last week, a teenage girl travelling on a commuter bus died when she was accidentally shot by a police sergeant reportedly angered by the bus driver's refusal to hand out a bribe.


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20 May 02 | Africa
22 Mar 02 | Africa
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19 Jul 01 | Africa
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