Six years after the end of military rule in Nigeria, the brutal techniques long employed by law enforcement agencies have not abated. The testimonies of the victims interviewed, in particular their acceptance of police brutality, illustrate a deeply embedded culture of violence that stems from the use of the police as a tool of control and oppression by colonial and military rulers alike. President Obasanjos government has done little to change this culture. Impunity for torture and other abuses continues to embolden the perpetrators while internal and external oversight bodies within the police force are poorly funded and staffed. This serves to discourage victims from seeking accountability for the abuses they have suffered. Meanwhile, police reform initiatives have failed to prioritize human rights protection and ensure there are adequate mechanisms to meaningfully address torture and deaths in custody.
The Nigerian President and Inspector General of Police must take concrete steps to show they are serious about eradicating torture in Nigeria. Ending police abuses and implementing meaningful reform must be approached with the same zeal as the governments anti-corruption crusade. Only with federal government support for genuine police reform and a nationwide public awareness campaign against police abuses can attitudes towards police brutality be changed. Thorough and independent investigations of all allegations of torture must be conducted and steps taken to ensure criminal prosecution of the perpetrators and justice for the victims and their families.