Hundreds of suspects are being held in ungazetted detention centres across Nigeria.
In order to stem the increasing cases of detention of people in arbitrary and ungazetted places, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has established a working group to investigate such detention centres across the country.
The working group that is be chaired by Ibrahim Nikau is required to “receive, investigate and examine any information, complaint, petition or allegation relating to arbitrary or ungazetted places of detention in Nigeria.”
Human Rights organisations including the Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International have raised concerns about the rights abuses in these arbitrary detention centres especially those used to incarcerate suspected Boko-Haram members.
President Goodluck Jonathan recently announced the release of over N1 billion for the upgrade of the Giwa barracks in Borno and other detention facilities used by the Nigerian military to detain suspected members of the Boko Haram.
The military had earlier admitted the detention of hundreds of suspected insurgents without trial, saying it was ready to prosecute over 500 of them that it believed were Boko Haram members. Scores of others were released after being found innocent, the Defence Headquarters spokesperson had said.
The NHRC’s working group is also to “visit, inspect, or examine any premises or place operated by any person, institution or entity and used for the purpose of detaining persons under any guise or excuse.”
Other functions of the working group include the following:
“(i) seek and, if necessary, compel and inspect from the persons operating any places of detention, the bases or legal authority under which such places are operated;
(ii) verify the number of persons detained in such places and the conditions under which they are detained;
(iii) be governed in the conduct of its work by the Act and the STORP and by such other methods of work as may subsequently be authorized by Council;
(iv) co-opt such other persons or expertise as may be necessary for the due performance of the tasks;
(v) submit a report to the Governing Council of the NHRC embodying its findings, conclusions and recommendations not later than the end of April 2013;
(vi) undertake such other tasks as may be necessary for or incidental to the realisation of these terms of reference.”
Section 6 subsection 1 (d) of the Human Rights Commission Act (as amended) “empowers the Commission to, among other things, visit persons, police cells and other places of detention in order to ascertain the conditions thereof and make recommendations to the appropriate authorities.”
Other members of the working group are: Rita Ifeyinwa Njokanma, Eugenia Abu, D.O.C. Ezeigwe and Bem Angwe(secretary).
Mr. Angwe is the Executive Secretary of the NHRC.