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Insight: Torture and abuse in Nigeria

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Torture and abuse in Nigeria

Since the return to democracy in 1999, the Nigerian state is witnessing an upsurge in human rights violations which ranges from detention without trial, police brutality, forceful evictions, torture, extra-judicial killing, summary execution, harassment, and intimidation.

Security forces operations remained characterized by human rights violations in all the geo-political zones of the country, while torture continues to be the main method of investigation by security agencies.

The 2010 Open Society Justice Initiative and the Network of Police Reform report described Nigerian police stations as “torture chambers”, while Amnesty International reports indicted Nigerian government of torture.

The pattern of human rights violations in the area of torture has a remarkable trend cut across the 6 geo-political zones. 

In a common trend, suspects are routinely picked from the street by the security personnel on different count charges, they are been tortured, humiliated and punished unjustly. 

Those who are unlucky are kept in detention without trial while some are summarily executed.

For instance, in the Northeast region of Nigeria that is affected by the Boko Haram insurgents, victims continue to recount their experiences in the hands of the security agents. 

In the Giwa Barrack, popularly referred to as Guantanamo, according to one of the detainees, “detainees were crammed into drums and inflamed from beneath. “Many of us did not survive it.

That is why you can see every part of my body is burnt,” he said.

Torture and summary killings of Boko Haram suspects is prevalent with the security agencies in the Northeast. 

The 2013 Human Right Watch Report titled Leave Everything to God” Accountability for Inter-Communal Violence in Plateau and Kaduna States, Nigeria indicted Nigerian security on the excessive use of torture and summary execution of the civilians.

Also, the 2015 Amnesty International Report further indicted Nigerian Military on torture and extra-judicial killings in the Northeast.

In the Plateau State violence among the Berom ethnic and Hausa-Fulani, both parties have consistently accused security agents of being responsible for the torture and killings in the area. 

The Southwest is peculiar for torture, summary execution, and forced disappearance of armed robbery suspects. 

In the South East Geo-Political zone of the country, security agencies continue to unlawfully arrest, torture, imprison and execute without trial. 

The alleged torture and execution of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) members at the Ezu River is a pointer example.

Another dimension of human rights abuse is that those who are suspected to be involved in the same-sex relationship are either beaten to death, tortured or stripped naked and scorned.

They are seen to have indulged in behavior that is atrocious to the society and must be either killed or punished.  

Ogun, Adamawa, Imo and Anambra states people suspected to be gay are tortured and stripped naked.

Gender-based violence usually accompanied by rape is another dimension of human right abuse in Nigeria.

This is usually rampant among the Nigerian prisons. The security officials and prison staff had been in most cases reported on how they tortured and raped women in detention.

 Also, prostitutes on the streets are usually rounded up by the policemen, forced into their cars and taken to police stations where they are usually tortured and raped.

Torture, brutality, and extra-judicial killings continue to be the practice in Nigeria with the security agents at the center perpetrating them.

As the practice continues, there is hardly an opportunity for the victims of torture and extra-judicial killing to freely recount their experience.

The government has in many occasions faulted the reports on torture, extra-judicial killing and other forms of human right abuse and this is because its official never had the opportunity to listen to the experience of the victims.

Audu Liberty Oseni

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