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Friday, 6 December, 2002, 14:28 GMT
Nigerian police novices disarmed
Lagos policewoman
Nigeria's police force does not have a good reputation
Police officers in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, will no longer be issued with firearms until they have worked for five years.

The move follows the killings of several civilians since the police launched a crackdown on armed crime - called Operation Fire-for-Fire - earlier this year.


They tend to throw caution to the wind... which has led to the death of innocent citizens

Emmanuel Ighodalo, Lagos police spokesman
On Wednesday, three people were killed when a police corporal dropped a cocked assault rifle after the police vehicle he was in drove into a ditch.

On Tuesday, another police officer shot and killed the driver of an unauthorised taxi, Lagos police spokesman Emmanuel Ighodalo told Reuters news agency.

On Sunday, a policeman shot dead a 42-year-old man and shot a 13-year-old girl in the chest at a Seventh Day Adventist Church, the spokesman said.

The girl is recovering in hospital.

'Restore sanity'

Lagos police officers are often armed with assault rifles.

Operation Fire-for-Fire was introduced in March by the newly-appointed national police chief Tafa Balogun.

Some 500 police officers were equipped with "appropriate" firearms to deal with heavily armed criminals in Lagos.

"Some of them have not got the experience and that is why they are reckless in the use of these firearms," the police spokesman said.

"They tend to throw caution to the wind... which has led to the deaths of innocent citizens."

Police chief Mr Balogun said that "Fire-for-Fire" officers were on "a special mission to restore sanity to Lagos", a city of between 10 and 13 million people.

But the operation immediately ran into criticism after the civilian deaths.

Nigerian police have a reputation for corruption.

In June, a girl died after a policeman opened fire at a bus she was travelling in, when the driver refused to pay a bribe at a road block.


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27 Jun 02 | Africa
22 Mar 02 | Africa
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