- Category: Society
- Published on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 08:44
- Written by Mail & Guardian
- Hits: 1582
Many members of the Nigerian police are more likely to commit crimes than prevent them, a report claimed today.
Police personnel routinely kill suspects, use torture as a principal means of investigation, commit rapes of both sexes and engage in extortion at nearly every opportunity, according to joint findings by watchdogs in
The authors urge the new Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, to make police reform a priority as he grapples with crime and corruption in
"This shocking pattern of abuse calls into question the legitimacy of the entire
Extrajudicial killings and torture are widespread, the study alleges, citing a detainee in
"In one well-documented case in 2004 in
It adds that the police rely on torture to elicit "confessions", a practice so common that many stations have a person on staff who oversees the torture of detainees and a room set aside for the practice. Police personnel even have their own slang for various methods of torture.
"Some former detainees report having been bound and suspended in midair in painful positions and kicked and beaten with machetes, gun butts, boots, fists, electrical wires, animal hides and other instruments," the report says. "Others describe being shot in the leg or assaulted by police officers while in custody and suffering multiple fractures; being forced to perform impossibly painful calisthenics; and being raped.
"Sex workers report being rounded up by NPF personnel for the express purpose of rape. Acknowledging the routine nature of rape by police, one police officer referred to it simply as a 'fringe benefit' of certain patrols."
The study argues that
The authors call for increased autonomy and oversight, better recruitment and working conditions and improved investigation, arrest and detention policies.
James Goldston, executive director of the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative, which co-produced the report, said: "Strengthening oversight through a special prosecutorial unit for police crimes and regular monitoring of police and their facilities would help curb mistreatment."
The findings of the report, Criminal Force: Torture, Abuse and Extrajudicial Killings by the Nigeria police force, were based on independent field monitoring and investigation at more than 400 police stations and posts in 14 states and territories in Nigeria from February 2007 to January 2009.
The Open Society Justice Initiative says it uses litigation, advocacy, research and technical assistance to promote international human rights. Noprin is a group of 41 civil society organisations launched in 2000 to promote safety and security in
Last year the NPF rejected a report by Amnesty International documenting unlawful police killings, saying: "In the last 10 years of democratic practice in