U.S. releases damning human rights report about Nigeria

A woman walks past burnt houses in the aftermath of what Nigerian authorities said was heavy fighting between security forces and Islamist militants in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, adjacent to the Chadian border, April 21, 2013. The bloody gun battle against Islamist insurgents in Nigeria last week involved forces from neighbouring Chad and Niger, officials said on Tuesday, as West African countries increasingly view jihadist groups as a cross-border threat. There was no confirmation of the death toll from Friday's fighting, but a Nigerian military source said dozens may have died, many of them civilians. The Nigerian Red Cross said it was checking reports from locals that 187 people had died, but had still not obtained security clearance to go into Baga. Picture taken April 21, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer (NIGERIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS) - RTXZ0PR

“The most serious human rights abuses during the year were those committed by Boko Haram.”

A new report by the United States has described Nigeria as a country where corruption, official impunity, and gross human rights violations occur at will.

The report described the human rights violations to include extra-judicial killings, rape, torture, mistreatment of detainees, destruction of property, violence against women, vigilante killings, child labour, forced and bonded labour, and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

This assessment of Nigeria is according to the 2013 Country Report on Human Rights. The report, which is now in its 38th year, is sanctioned by the U.S. Congress. It, amongst other things, helps inform the U.S. government policy and foreign assistance.

According to the report, the terrorist group, Boko Haram, and the Nigerian Government are the worst perpetrators of human rights abuses in the country.

“The most serious human rights abuses during the year were those committed by Boko Haram, which conducted killings, bombings, abduction and rape of women, and other attacks throughout the country, resulting in numerous deaths, injuries, and widespread destruction of property; those committed by security services, which perpetrated extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, beatings, arbitrary detention, mistreatment of detainees, and destruction of property; and widespread societal violence, including ethnic, regional, and religious violence,” the report said.
The report came hard on the Goodluck Jonathan administration for institutionalising impunity with the state pardon granted to serial money launderer and former governor of Bayelsa State, Dipreye Alamieyeseigha. It also said the Nigeria government has displayed no willingness to prosecute soldiers and police officers accused of gross human rights violations.

The report makes specific reference to the refusal of the government to prosecute members of the armed forces found to have perpetrated extrajudicial killing and torture in clear disregard of the recommendation of The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Committee against Torture.

“During the year joint task forces (JTFs), composed of elements of the military, police, and other security services, conducted raids on militant groups and criminal suspects in the states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Katsina, Jigawa, and Yobe. These raids resulted in numerous deaths of and injuries to alleged criminals, militants, and civilians. Local NGOs, international human rights groups, and political and traditional leaders in the affected states accused the security services of indiscriminate and extrajudicial killings.

“The national police, army, and other security forces committed extrajudicial killings and used lethal and excessive force to apprehend criminals and suspects as well as to disperse protesters. Authorities generally did not hold police accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody. The reports of state or federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths remained unpublished.”

Inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment

The report frowned at the technique of “parading” of suspects commonly used by the police. It observed that most of those paraded are subjected to public ridicule or abuse.

“Police commonly used a technique called “parading” of arrestees. Parading involved literally walking arrestees through public spaces, subjecting them to public ridicule and abuse.

“Bystanders often hurled taunts, food, and other objects. Police defended this practice with the argument that public humiliation helped deter crime,” it said.

It further observed that police flagrantly extort money from civilians and in blatant violation of the law. They use torture to extract confessions from suspects, which are later used to secure convictions in court.

The report indicts the police of rape and other sexual offences of women in their custody. In one example in Abraka in Delta State, in March 2013, a woman said four men raped her while she was in police custody. She said the police had put her in the same cell as the men. She accused the police of failing to help her. According to her, the investigating police office told her to keep quiet about the incident.

Over-crowded and disease-infested prisons

The report described a horrid condition of the country’s prison. It said the prisons are mostly over-crowded and in such deplorable states that they provide fertile breeding grounds for communicable disease. It said prisoners are poorly fed and their health neglected.

For instance, it observed that inmates with mental illness are kept among the general population. Prison warders are also accused of widespread torture, extortions, and sexual abuses such as rape of female inmates.

“Prison and detention center conditions remained harsh and life threatening. Prisoners, a majority of whom had not been tried, were subject to extrajudicial execution, torture, gross overcrowding, food and water shortages, inadequate medical treatment, deliberate and incidental exposure to heat and sun, and infrastructure deficiencies that led to wholly inadequate sanitary conditions and could result in death.”

“Reports indicated guards and prison officials extorted inmates or levied fees on them to pay for food, prison maintenance, and prisoner release. In some cases female inmates faced the threat of rape. Female prisoners pregnant at the time of incarceration gave birth to and raised their babies in prison,” it added.

“Overcrowding was a significant problem in some prisons. Although national capacity stood at 47,284, an imbalance in the use of prisons resulted in underutilization at some facilities, while others were at more than 800 percent of their designed capacity. For example, the Owerri Federal Prison had the capacity to hold 548 prisoners but held more than 1,784. Ogwuashi-Uku prison in Delta State, with a capacity to house 64 prisoners, housed 541, while Port Harcourt prison, with a capacity to hold 804, held 2,955. Ijebu-Ode prison in Lagos, with a capacity to hold 49 prisoners, held 309,” it continued.

“Although the law prohibits the imprisonment of children, minors–many of whom were born there–lived in the prisons. A 2006 report on the rights and welfare of children from the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs to the African Union found an estimated 6,000 children lived in prisons and detention centers. The Nigerian Prison Service reported, however, that as of March, 69 infants resided in prison with their mothers while 847 juvenile inmates were detained in juvenile detention centers.”

Freedom of Speech

The report observed that though the freedom of speech and a free press are guaranteed by the constitution, high-handed security and government officials still occasionally harass journalists.

The report made a case in point of the December 2012 raid of the homes and offices of the editor Musa Muhammad Awwal and reporter Aliyu Saleh of the Hausa-language weekly newspaper Al-Mizan, confiscating their phones and laptops as well as detaining the journalists and their wives.

“Politicians and political parties harassed and attacked journalists perceived as reporting on them or their interests in a negative manner. For example, on April 8, authorities in Abuja detained two reporters for Leadership Newspaper, Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzor Ukaibe, following the publication on April 3 of an article alleging that President Jonathan had ordered the disruption of operations of his political opponents. Authorities charged the two men with “vexatious publication.” All charges were later dropped.

“Journalists also were at risk of abduction. For example, in March assailants in Ondo State abducted a Nigeria Television Authority journalist, Olubunmi Oke, as she arrived home from work with her infant child and maid. The child and maid were later released. Media reports stated that the assailants had demanded an eight million naira ($50,240) ransom. Oke was freed after three days, following the payment of an undisclosed ransom.”

Read the full report here.


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  • redeem

    How many did the Americans prosecute during the Vietnam war–In Iraq and Afghanistan-nko? Have they had the courage to bring down the walls of the largest prison on earth in Palestine-since 1945? Only in Nigeria where most Northern elites work as agents for the USA embassy would such a watery report by published by a media misfit owned by APC-an editor who does not even understand international politics-in 9ja —must be a hired fool–soon Sharia Reporters would lift the story and splash it on the face of doctor damages-and his atilogu dancers-in new york

  • anonymous

    Not to mention “traffic jams choreographed from hell”…without a doubt Nigeria is a living hell on earth, yet the people continue like everything is normal…

  • Naijagogoodagain

    And this is the most religious country in the world! Lol!

  • emmanuel

    Reports from the USA and UK should no longer interest us.

    It is a new world order, let us refocus!

    • Naijagogoodagain

      So what should bother us then?

    • Garden-City Boy

      …I tell yer …..!

  • arewethishopeless

    “This must be a report sponsored by APC and other elements opposed to the transformational agenda of our dear and loving president, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan … ” usual reaction from the jonathanian machinery/ PDP ..

    “The US and UK must stop interfering in the rule of this SS and SE government. Where were they when the born-to-rule Hausa/Fulani led by Sanusi orchestrated …….” usual reaction from Pastor Reno Omokri aka Mr Wendell Simlin aka amrod aka max aka ….

    Notice how the government never ever accepts responsibility for its actions or inactions. Its main theme is DENY EVERYTHING BUT IF CAUGHT BLAME EVERYONE ELSE INCLUDING ORDINARY NIGERIANS.

    Which is why when they sya Good morning, Nigerians head for their windows …

  • Pastor

    Pure facts. This is the real feature of present Nigeria under badluck jonathan. Almost everything is dying, and blood is flowing everywhere. More women are dying, and more children are becoming orphans. The help from President is threat to the governor as well as the people of the state. No human feelings at all, though i expect worse than this from a militant. No problems, he has few days to pack out, and face Hague.

  • And inspite of this horrendous indictment, someone still believes he is the best for the job a third time.

  • wale

    These Americans are hypocrites of a banal kind what are they talking about?, who are they to be judging us?, they should remove the log in their own eyes first!, wat about policemen who perpetuate extrajudicial killings throughout America?, what about fallujah? where US troops used perpetuated war crines against women and children and chemical weapons i.e depleted uranium on innocent people resulting in birth defects among iraqi women? This is a useless country that has not ratified major human rights conventions and people of color, migrant workers, native indians , hispanics and women still suffer the worst of human rights abuse! No wonder the chinese foreign minister lambasted them last week

    US Lacks Moral Authority to Judge on Human Rights: China
    Following US report criticizing human rights abuses in countries around the world, China hits back. The United States is hardly a bastion of human rights standards and is on poor footing to judge other nations, the government of China stated Friday. The comments were in response to a human rights report released by the U.S. which criticized China amongst other countries for their human rights abuses.
    The combination of the U.S. drone assassination programs, a National Security Agency under increasing global scrutiny for its dragnet surveillance practices, rampant gun violence, poor labor standards, and use of solitary confinement in jails shows that the U.S. is hardly without its own human rights abuses, a report released by China, “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2013,” points out. Acting as “the world judge of human rights,” the report states, the U.S. “made arbitrary attacks and irresponsible remarks” in the State Department’s “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013.” In that report, the U.S. said China has taken part in a continued crackdown on activists and political dissent: “China continued its crackdown on human rights activists, increased repression in ethnic Tibetan and Uighur areas, and continued to severely restrict the freedoms of expression, religion, association, and assembly.”
    “The United States always wants to gossip and remark about other countries’ situations, but ignores its own issues,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news briefing. “This is a classic double standard.”

  • wale

    These Americans are hypocrites of a banal kind! What are they talking about?, who are they to be judging us or even judge us in the first place?, they should remove the log in their own eyes first before even attempting to point at the speck in ours!, what have they done about policemen who perpetuate extrajudicial killings throughout America?, what about fallujah where US troops perpetuated horrendous atrocities against civilians women and used weapons containing chemical and biological weapons i.e depleted uranium on innocent civilians resulting in birth defects among iraqi women? This is a useless country that has not even bothered to ratify basic human rights and international labour conventions i.e CEDAW and blacks, migrants, refugees, native indians , hispanics and women still suffer human rights abuse! No wonder the chinese foreign minister lambasted them last week

    US Lacks Moral Authority to Judge on Human Rights: China
    Following US report criticizing human rights abuses in countries around the world, China hits back. The United States is hardly a bastion of human rights standards and is on poor footing to judge other nations, the government of China stated Friday. The comments were in response to a human rights report released by the U.S. which criticized China amongst other countries for their human rights abuses.
    The combination of the U.S. drone assassination programs, a National Security Agency under increasing global scrutiny for its dragnet surveillance practices, rampant gun violence, poor labor standards, and use of solitary confinement in jails shows that the U.S. is hardly without its own human rights abuses, a report released by China, “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2013,” points out. Acting as “the world judge of human rights,” the report states, the U.S. “made arbitrary attacks and irresponsible remarks” in the State Department’s “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013.” In that report, the U.S. said China has taken part in a continued crackdown on activists and political dissent: “China continued its crackdown on human rights activists, increased repression in ethnic Tibetan and Uighur areas, and continued to severely restrict the freedoms of expression, religion, association, and assembly.”
    “The United States always wants to gossip and remark about other countries’ situations, but ignores its own issues,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news briefing. “This is a classic double standard.”