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II. Recommendations

To the Nigerian federal and state governments and the police authorities

  • Publicly condemn the use of torture and ill-treatment by police officers and other law enforcement agencies, including through a public information campaign to increase awareness that torture is forbidden under Nigerian and international law.

  • Investigate promptly and independently all allegations of torture and ill-treatment by police officers or other law enforcement agencies. Identify the individuals responsible for ordering and carrying out the torture and immediately suspend them from active duty, pending criminal prosecution.

  • Ensure strict safeguards against arbitrary arrest are incorporated into the laws of criminal procedure, the Police Act and codes of conduct for law enforcement agencies. In particular, suspects should be informed at the time of arrest of the reason for their arrest, promptly informed of the charges against them and due process adhered to at all times.

  • Ensure that persons taken into custody are charged and brought before a court of competent jurisdiction within twenty-four hours. Where there is no court within a forty kilometer radius this should be within a reasonable time, ideally forty-eight hours, as provided for in the Nigerian constitution. Immediately release or charge with a recognizable criminal offense all those currently held in police or prison custody without charge.

  • Legal representation should be mandatory for all persons charged with capital offenses, who should be brought before a court of competent jurisdiction without due delay and in any case within two months of arrest, as provided for in the Nigerian constitution.

  • Ensure police officers inform suspects of their right to legal representation at the time of arrest, including through the distribution of posters and pamphlets explaining their rights, which should be put up in all police stations country-wide.

  • Increase the resources to the Legal Aid Council to provide free legal assistance to indigent persons.

  • Ensure that all suspects in police custody are given adequate food and water and granted access to medical treatment where required.

  • Ensure that legally required autopsies are carried out for every person who dies while in custody of any agency of the state, and make autopsy reports publicly available. Strengthen coroners’ laws to ensure stricter penalties for failure of the police to comply with requirements for inquests and improve witness protection for those giving information to initiate or assist an inquest to death in custody.

  • Introduce a compulsory regular reporting mechanism from divisional police stations to the force headquarters, on complaints lodged about abuses, including torture, killings or extortion. This should include details of how they are being followed up and the status of investigation. The information should be made public. 

  • Increase the resources and staffing of internal oversight bodies such as Police Complaints Bureau and the Human Rights Units to investigate allegations of police abuse. Publicize the existence of these bodies.

  • Amend the Police Service Commission Act to grant the Police Service Commission the powers to conduct independent investigation into police misconduct of a criminal nature, including serious human rights abuses, and make referrals to the prosecutor. Provide extra resources, including equipment, personnel and training to the commission’s investigation department.

  • Thoroughly review the police training curriculum to include comprehensive training on human rights issues including legal and appropriate interrogation techniques. Provide comprehensive training for police officers on the conduct of investigations. All training must be consistent with international human rights standards, such as the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and other international human rights standards.

  • Compensate victims of torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention adequately and speedily.

  • Take steps to end widespread extortion of detainees by police officials. Thoroughly investigate all allegations of extortion by such personnel and take appropriate disciplinary action against all those found responsible.

  • Sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, allowing visits to Nigeria by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Committee against Torture.

    To the Judiciary

  • Ensure that all defendants are informed of and understand their right to legal representation. Trials should be adjourned to offer time to find a lawyer.

  • Limit the use of confessions as a basis for pre-trial detention or conviction. Do not accept as evidence confessions which appear to be extracted under torture. If a defendant alleges during the course of judicial proceedings that he or she has been compelled to make a statement or to confess guilt, judges should order a prompt and impartial investigation into the allegation.

  • Ensure that all defendants are brought to trial within a reasonable time. The authorities should show special diligence in bringing the case to trial if the accused is in pre-trial detention.

    To the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other donors

  • Put human rights and the rule of law at the heart of diplomatic relations. Publicly condemn the practice of torture and ill-treatment by the Nigerian Police Force and urge the Nigerian authorities to take immediate steps to investigate and prosecute members of the police force and other law enforcement agencies responsible for human rights violations.

  • Governments providing assistance or training to the Nigerian Police Force should ensure that human rights training is incorporated at all levels and that mechanisms are put in place to monitor whether police officers adhere to them in practice.

  • Fund local NGOs to improve the monitoring and documenting of police abuses and to undertake advocacy at a national level.

  • Condition further financial assistance, equipment, training or other aid to the police or other law enforcement agencies such as the EFCC or NDLEA on concrete measures to prevent and end impunity for torture. This should include the investigation of reported torture cases, the suspension of officers alleged to have committed torture, and prosecution of those against whom there is substantial evidence.

  • The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the question of torture and the African Commission “focal point” on Prevention of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Africa should request permission to visit Nigeria and prepare a report on torture and ill-treatment for their mandating bodies, with recommendations to the government of Nigeria.

    <<previous  |  index  |  next>>July 2005