A group, Sterling Centre for Law and Development, has tasked the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, implement the Anti-torture Act to curtail the increasing and continued use of force by members of the security and law enforcement agencies against innocent Nigerians.
To this end, it wants the federal government to direct the Nigeria police to re-organise its internal monitoring activities to drastically reduce and eliminate cases of torture of suspects for confessions or as a part of punishment for erring detainees.
Speaking in Abuja, during a rally to commemorate the day in support of victims of torture, the group’s coordinator Deji Ajari said that the police should be more open to external monitoring by opening up its facilities to local and international groups who should be given access to interact with detainees to ascertain if they are being subjected to torture.
According to Ajari, “Every security agencies in Nigeria from head to toe are under the law and they are expected to obey the law. Security agencies, no matter how secret they are, cannot just arrest. Arrest is to be carried out with warrant.
“And in certain cases, yes, it can be done without warrant. They ought to obtain warrant before they arrest in appropriate cases.”
He explained further: “Our law is very clear. Recently in 2015, the Administration of Justice Act was also passed. That again, re-emphasised the rights of suspects and detainees and accused persons.
“And if the administration of the criminal justice act are fully implemented, nobody will be detained first, because the constitution says nobody should be detained for more than 24 hours and in very rear cases, in 48 hours without either been charged to court or released on bail.
“So, if this continues, it already amounts to unlawful act and in fact in my opinion and in the opinion of the law, I believe it’s an act of torture and should be punishable.”
According to him, “The police, which is the law enforcement agency in Nigeria with the most contact with the public and the responsibility of securing lives and property, investigating and solving crime, and maintenance of peace within society, is the agency which has the most cases of torture reported against it.
“The law criminalises the use of torture, and sets in place mechanisms for the prevention, detection and prosecution of cases of torture against Nigerians. Widespread implementation of the act will reduce drastically the use of torture in the country.
“We would like to suggest that the Nigeria police step up its internal monitoring activities to drastically reduce and eventually eliminate cases of torture of suspects for confessions or as a part of punishment for erring detainees. The police should also be more open to external monitoring by opening up its facilities to local and international groups who should be given access to interact with detainees to ascertain if they are being subjected to torture.”