The Nigerian Police have refuted a report by the by Amnesty International indicting the police and military of using torture to extort money or extract confessions from detained Nigerians.
In the damning report titled: Welcome to Hell-Fire: Torture and other ill-treatment in Nigeria, the Amnesty International said men, women and children, as young as 12 are beaten, shot and sometimes raped in while in detention, in an efforts to get information from them.
Amnesty International said the report, released Thursday, was compiled and its evidence gathered over 10 years from numerous testimonies.
“Torture is not even a criminal offence in Nigeria. The country’s parliament must immediately take this long overdue step and pass a law criminalizing torture. There is no excuse for further delay,” the Amnesty report said.
The report said there is an informal appointment of an Officer in Charge of Torture, O/C Torture in some Nigerian police stations.
The report also said most detained persons were held incommunicado and denied access to the outside world, including lawyers, families and courts.
However, in a statement by the police spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojukwu, the Nigeria Police denied the allegations.
“While we do not question the freedom of Amnesty International to earn its relevance and bread, the Nigeria Police takes serious exceptions to some blatant falsehoods and innuendoes contained in that report,” Mr. Ojukwu said.
Mr. Ojukwu said it was extreme for Amnesty to liken Nigeria – a growing nation, green and largely peaceful – to hellfire, noting that the report cannot be true.
He added since the return of democracy in Nigeria, the police has significantly improved on its human rights records due to community policing, intense training and retraining of personnel and attitudinal and structural reformation.
“At no time in its report, did Amnesty speak or interface with the Police authorities. This obviously shows their disdain and apparent lack of character where the democratic tenets of fair hearing are concerned.
“The report covered a seven year period of 2007-2014. I dare say that some of the issues raised have since been dispensed with and settled,” he said.
Mr. Ojukwu said the police Code of Conduct and regulations prohibited torture or any kind of ill-treatment in the force.
He said the conduct of the Nigerian police was in line with global best practices and the dictates of the Nigerian constitution as regards to human rights.
“Of a truth, torture or ill-treatment is not, repeat, NOT an official policy of the Nigeria Police. The Code of Conduct of Officers, as well as our Regulations prohibit torture and incivility to members of the public,” he said.
Mr. Ojukwu noted that because the police has zero tolerance for abuse of power and corruption, issues of human right abuse were treated in line with the Force’s laws and regulation.
He said the police will investigate any current cases of human rights abuse linked to any officer or police formation, Mr. Ojukwu also asked AI to furnish the police with specific details of its allegations to ensure justice for alleged victims.
“Besides, the Nigeria Police is women-friendly. We do not target sex workers, nor routinely adopt rape as a weapon. Instead, the Police has established a family and human trafficking unit to protect the rights of women, children and the vulnerable members of our society,” he said.