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Nigeria Cracks Down on Vigilantes

On August 8, the BBC reported that the Nigerian police arrested more than 30 people and "closed down what they described as torture centres belonging to the group known as the Bakassi Boys.... The police action follows growing concern that such vigilante organisations may be used as hired thugs by local politicians in the forthcoming election period." On May 20, Human Rights Watch and the Centre for Law Enforcement Education released "Nigeria: The Bakassi Boys: The Legitimization of Murder and Torture." The report charged the vigilante group with responsibility for scores of extrajudicial executions and hundreds of cases of torture and arbitrary detentions. These abuses have been tolerated, and sometimes actively encouraged, by state government authorities.

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