4:42 pm - Saturday January 19, 2509

Damning Report: There is No Reform in NIGERIA POLICE, No Justice for victims of brutality one year after #EndSARS Protests-AMNESTY International …Investigation panels dashing victims’ hope of getting justice *Pro-government mobs used to instigate violence, Nigeria police lawless violence beyond control *Gravity of human rights violations outrageous, not a single culpable law enforcement agent has been prosecuted * “Nigeria has the worst police force in the world”-World Internal Security and Police Index International *BY MUSTAPHA AHMED/SPECIAL Law Enforcement Correspondent, Abuja

Damning Report:

There is No Reform in NIGERIA POLICE, No Justice for victims of brutality one year after #EndSARS Protests-AMNESTY International

Investigation panels dashing victims’ hope of getting justice 

*Pro-government mobs used to instigate violence,  Nigeria police lawless violence beyond control

*Gravity of human rights violations outrageous, not a single culpable law enforcement agent has been prosecuted

* “Nigeria has the worst police force in the world”-World Internal Security and Police Index International

*BY MUSTAPHA AHMED/SPECIAL Law Enforcement Correspondent, Abuja

GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS body, Amnesty International has released a damning report on Africa’s most populous black nation in the world at the end of last year’s (2021) conclusive investigation on Nigeria Police Force, NPF, in the area of injustice, violence, human rights violation; brutality and torture of innocent Nigerians. These lawless activities of the police are prominent among the Special Anti-Robbery Security (SARS)-an elite part of NPF. 

One year after peaceful #EndSARS protests ended in a brutal crackdown by Nigerian security forces in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of the country, no one has been brought to justice for the torture, violence, and killings of peaceful protesters, while reports of human rights violations by the police continue, Amnesty International said today. 

 

An investigation by the organization found that Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 people on 20 October 2020 at Lekki toll gate and Alausa in Lagos. Amnesty International was able to establish that pro-government supporters instigated violence at many of the demonstrations, providing cover for the police to use lethal force against peaceful protesters. The organization also found that detained protesters were tortured and refused or denied immediate access to lawyers.  

A year on, despite the gravity of these human rights violations, not a single member of the security forces has been prosecuted while judicial panels of inquiry set up to investigate abuses by officers have made little progress. 

“Under the pretext of restoring order, horrific injuries were inflicted on hundreds of people and at least 56 people were killed, among them dozens of young people lost their lives as Nigerian security forces used unnecessary and excessive force to disperse peaceful protesters across the country. It is unacceptable that despite overwhelming evidence, the government continues to deny the use of live ammunition on protesters at the Lekki toll gate exactly a year ago.”  

Amnesty International had documented incidents at Lekki Toll Gate Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, showing the violent response of the Nigerian security forces to peaceful protests. The clear aim of the crackdown was to instill fear, discourage peaceful protests and punish those demanding an end to widespread human rights violations by the police.  

Use of pro-government supporters to whip up violence 

While most of the #EndSARS protesters were peaceful, there was violence, mostly instigated by pro-government supporters. 

After reviewing videos and photos of the protest sites, Amnesty international found that in nearly 21 incidents where violence occurred between peaceful protesters and pro-government supporters, security forces not only failed to take preventive measures to avoid peaceful assemblies from being disrupted, but they also failed to protect protesters from violent attacks.   

“In many instances, the police and other security agents watched as apparently government-backed armed thugs attacked peaceful protesters. In some cases, these thugs were brought to the protest sites in government vehicles. On at least two occasions, these attacks resulted in the death of protesters,” said Osai Ojigho. 

Excessive use of force 

Almost every person arrested during the protests described being beaten with the butt of a gun, whips and fists during their arrests. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 12 journalists were attacked during the #EndSARS protests by security forces and unidentified perpetrators. 

Many of those detained interviewed by Amnesty International said that they were tortured while in detention. In many cases, police abuse continued in detention, in police stations and other holding facilities, and on the way to detention, in police vehicles. Several such cases amount to torture and other ill-treatment.  

Delayed or no access to legal counsel 

Amnesty International also documented numerous cases in which police denied or delayed access to lawyers and medical care to detainees. This was despite repeated requests from detainees to see or call a lawyer – and repeated requests from lawyers at places of detention to have access to the detainees. Several lawyers and human right defenders said they spent days moving from one police station to another trying to find out where those who had been arrested were being held.  

One person arrested during a protest on 18 October 2020 and held at Lagos state Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Panti, said he repeatedly asked to call a lawyer. He was told by a police officer to shut up. While in detention, he was denied access to a lawyer who had come to see him and was unable to meet with a lawyer until a week after being arrested. 

Providing timely access to lawyers is an important safeguard for many human rights, such as the right to a fair trial and ensuring the detainee’s rights are respected in custody, including the right to access medical care when needed, as well as protection from coerced confessions and torture and other ill-treatment. 

Investigative panels set up to look into police brutality have so far been marred by prolonged adjournments, intimidation of witnesses by police lawyers and the failure of police officers to appear as witnesses, according to observer reports verified by Amnesty International. Panels have failed to sit in some states, and in others have gone on an indefinite break. 

“What we observed at these panels is discouraging and clearly shows there is no real commitment to ensuring justice for victims of police violence across Nigeria. These panels raised hopes of getting justice but in some states, this is quickly vanishing,” said Osai Ojigho 

Amnesty International is calling on Nigerian authorities to put words into action and decisively end police impunity. Use of pro-government thugs to violently disperse and undermine peaceful #EndSARS protests must be thoroughly, independently, impartially, and transparently investigated and suspected perpetrators brought to justice in fair trials.  

Nigerians must not be denied the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to peaceful protest. All those detained or missing since the #EndSARS protests must be immediately released or reunited with their families. Nigerian authorities must ensure access of victims and their families to effective remedies, including adequate compensation, restitution, and guarantee of non-repetition. 

Nigeria has the worst police force in the world, according to World Internal Security and Police Index International, WISPI.

The 2016 report rates the Nigeria Police Force the “worst” globally in terms of its ability to handle internal security challenges.

The report was released by the International Police Science Association, IPSA, and the Institute for Economics and Peace, a nonprofit organisation that brings together experts, researchers and scholars concerned with security work from all over the world.

The indices used in accessing 127 countries from four key areas, namely, capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes, aim to measure the ability of the security apparatus within a country to respond to internal security challenges, both now and in future.

Nigeria police performed worst on the index on all the four domains, with a score of 0.255 ranked 127 below Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda and Pakistan.

The report noted that countries with protracted civil conflicts were not eligible for the index.

“There are 219 police officers for every 100,000 Nigerians, well below both the Index median of 300, and the sub-Saharan Africa region average of 268,” the report reads.

“This limits the capacity of the force to measure up to its law and order mandate.

“In terms of process, legitimacy and outcomes, the story is not different which makes the force fall short of the required standard.

“High levels of political terror have been an issue for Nigeria since 1993, with the country scoring a 4 on the Political Terror Scale every year since then.”

“Terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to internal security. Terrorism has increased dramatically over the last three years, with more than 62,000 people being killed in terrorist attacks between 2012 and 2014. The biggest rise in the last year occurred in Nigeria.”

According to the report, the top 10 performing African countries are Botswana which ranked highest at 47, followed by Rwanda which took the 50 position.

Others are Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ghana, South Africa and Mali, in that order.

The 10 least performing African countries are Madagascar 111th, Zambia 112th, Ethiopia 115th, Sierra Leone 117th, Cameroon 120th, Mozambique 122nd, Uganda 124th, Kenya 125th and Democratic Republic of Congo 126th.

The report showed that Singapore performed best on the index, followed by Finland, and then Denmark.

There were only four non-European countries in the top 20. The United Arab Emirates was the highest ranked country from the Middle East and North African, MENA, region as it ranked 29th overall.

The Nigerian police rejected the report. A statement by spokesperson Jimoh Moshood claimed the Nigeria police is the best in Africa.

“The Nigeria Police Force after a careful study of the report and the news items emanating from it, wishes to state categorically that the report is entirely misleading, a clear misrepresentation of facts and figures and essentially unempirical, considering the area of coverage of the report which was said to have been carried out in 2016 by the above mentioned associations,” the statement said.

“The report did not take into cognisance the significant improvement in the areas of Capacity Building, Training and Re-training of the entire personnel of the Force as provided for by the current Federal Government of Nigeria and other Foreign and Local NGOs which has greatly improved the efficiency and service delivery of the personnel of the Force throughout the country.

“Furthermore, in the UN Peacekeeping System, the Nigeria Police Force is rated as the best in UN Peacekeeping operations in the world. This clearly shows that the Nigeria Police Force is not and cannot be the worst in the world under any known scientific yardstick or measuring instrument.

“Currently, the Nigeria Police Force is one of the only two African Delegates representing the whole of Africa continent on the executive committee of Interpol, a position the Force obtained based on high performance, merit and sustained good track records.

“However, it must be pointed out that the Nigeria Police Force sees the report as a clear demonstration of mischief, ignorance and calculated attempt to distort the feat being recorded by the Force in ensuring adequate security and safety of Nigerians. Nowhere in the report were references made to either the improved capacity or achievements recorded by the Nigeria Police Force across the country in the recent time, the Force therefore implores all Nigerians and international community to disregard the report as unfounded and misleading.”

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