Annual Report: Nigeria 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Nigeria 2013

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Hundreds of people accused of having links to Boko Haram were arbitrarily detained by the JTF. Many were detained incommunicado for lengthy periods without charge or trial, without being brought before any judicial authority, and without access to lawyers. Hundreds of people were detained without charge or trial at Giwa Barracks, 21 Armoured Brigade, Maiduguri, in harsh conditions that may amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.

Independent and impartial investigations were rarely carried out into allegations of human rights violations by the security forces and, when they were, the findings were not made public.

  • On 9 March, Ali Mohammed Sadiq, Ahmed Yunusa, Auwalu Mohammed and two others – all staff or customers at a petrol station at Rijiyar Zaki, Kano State – were shot and killed when the JTF opened fire following an attack on a nearby police station. Ali Mohammed Sadiq was shot five times, including once in the head. No investigation was conducted and no officer was known to have been held responsible for the killings. The JTF Commander in Borno made a public apology on radio to the families of the victims.
  • A court order issued on 4 January for the production of Goni Ali, who was arrested by members of the JTF at his home in Maiduguri on 16 October 2011 and taken to Giwa Barracks and who had not been seen since, was ignored by the JTF. By the end of the year his family still had no information about his whereabouts.
  • On 1 May, following a killing by a suspected member of Boko Haram in Kawar Maila, JTF soldiers made women and children living nearby leave their homes before setting approximately 33 houses on fire. An lslamiyya school attended by local children was also burned down by the JTF. The building was unoccupied at the time.

Unlawful killings

Unlawful killings were carried out by the police across Nigeria. In March 2012, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Governing Council said an estimated 2,500 detainees were summarily killed by the police every year.

  • On 8 April, Blessing Monday, a 16-year-old boy living on the streets around the Abali Park Flyover in Port Harcourt, was shot and killed by police officers from Mile 1 Police Station who suspected he had stolen a bag. The police later discovered that Blessing Monday had not stolen the bag.
  • On 24 May, Goodluck Agbaribote, a former resident of the demolished Abonnema Wharf in Port Harcourt, was killed by officers from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) while he was bathing in a communal well. The police claimed he was an armed robber.
  • In November, the Nigerian Police Force eventually told a High Court in Port Harcourt that Chika Ibeku, who had “disappeared” in 2009 following his arrest and detention by the police, was in fact killed by the police in a “shootout”. The family, through a local NGO, filed a lawsuit requesting the autopsy report.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of criminal suspects and detainees, perpetrated by the security forces, remained widespread.

  • On 9 January, Alexander Nworgu was arrested in Owerri, Imo State, and taken to the police anti-kidnapping unit in Rivers State. He claims that, while in custody, he was regularly beaten with a machete and suspended from the ceiling by his feet every other day. After spending more than a month in police detention he was remanded in prison on 15 February before eventually being released on bail on 6 July. The charges against him were changed to theft while he was in police detention.

Justice system

Widespread corruption and disregard for due process and the rule of law continued to blight Nigeria's criminal justice system. Many people were arbitrarily arrested and detained for months without charge. Police continued to ask people to pay money for their release from detention. Many detainees were kept on remand in prison for lengthy periods and in harsh conditions. Court processes remained slow and largely distrusted. According to the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, over 70% of people in detention were awaiting either trial or sentencing. Court orders were often ignored by police and security forces.