How Nigerian security agents “extrajudicially” killed 13,241 in 10 years
Security agents killed more than 13,000 extrajudicials in the country from 2011 to 2021, a span of 10 years, a new report from a pro-democracy group, the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD), said.
The group, in its report obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, said this as part of a series of rights violations it documented in its report titled âNigeria Human Rights Record: An Assessment of the Past Two Decadesâ.
He traced the history of rights violations back to the Nigerian military regimes, saying: âNigerians have been subjected to 16 years of oppressive military rule marked by dozens of human rights violations.
The report examined human rights conditions in Nigeria since 1999 and compared them to constitutional guarantees and international human rights standards.
Its review is based on four key indicators: illegal detention, torture and extrajudicial killings, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression and the press.
âThe Nigerian military has not only ruled by brute force, but has also institutionalized human rights violations in the Nigerian legal system through executive orders,â the report said.
Torture and extrajudicial executions
The report notes that “unlawful killings have become commonplace in the country since 1999, with many of these killings being carried out by the security forces.”
âSuccessive governments in Nigeria have used illegal assassinations to quell secessionist uprisings and terrorist activity.
âIt is relevant to state that extrajudicial executions carried out by state actors have become the leading cause of death in the country. In fact, state actors have killed a total of 13,241 people since 2011. “
He described human rights violations in the form of unlawful detention and failure to follow court orders as pervasive in Nigeria.
He noted that the problems of illegal detention and non-compliance with court decisions by security agencies remained widespread, undermining Nigeria’s human rights.
âThe threat of illegal detention has become rather perverse, to the point that it has necessitated the intervention of the special ECOWAS tribunal in some cases. “
Citing the case of Sambo Dasuki, the report states that the Nigerian government “ignored several court orders, including one issued by the special ECOWAS tribunal, for the release of former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki on the 4th. October 2016 â.
âAdding to the effects of illegal detention is the horrific situation of detention in Nigeria, which further exacerbates human rights violations.
âOvercrowding in Nigerian prisons has increased by over 1000% over the past decade. “
The report states that “torture has taken hold in the application of Nigerian laws as a means of punishment as well as information gathering.”
He was referring to the now defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a dishonest unit of the Nigerian police, “notorious for using inhumane torture tactics both as information-gathering techniques and as punishment.”
âBetween January 2017 and May 2020, Amnesty International reported 82 cases of violence caused by SARS, including hangings, drownings and mock executions.
âDuring the lockdown related to COVID-19, 105 complaints of human rights violations were filed with the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, 33 of which concerned acts of torture. In 90% of the cases, the Nigerian police were accused of being the offender.
Freedom of assembly
The report highlighted instances where peaceful protesters “were greeted with brutal force by security officers.”
He was referring to the crackdown on #EndSARS protests last year, “where 48 people have suffered various forms of rights violations, including death.”
âGovernments have frequently used the pretext of ‘preventing terrorist actions’ to justify the disruption of peaceful protests and social movements. In doing so, the government severely restricted the rights of Nigerians to assemble and protest, in violation of the provisions of the Constitution.
âPeaceful protests regularly face violent attacks from security personnel or are even prevented from demonstrating in the first place.
âThe excessive use of force in reaction to largely peaceful protests – – most recently visible in the #ENDSars protests – has created a frightening climate that discourages or limits the right to assemble. “
Unperturbed, Nigerians protested on Democracy Day in June 2021, but were again faced with the deployment of security forces spraying tear gas and firing live ammunition into the air to disperse what they called “anti-government” demonstrations.
Attacks on the press
Likewise, journalists have had their own share of egregious violations by security guards, according to the report.
âThe media have faced censorship, harassment, arbitrary arrests and even attempted assassinations against journalists.
âNigeria was named one of the worst countries in the world in 2013 for deadly and unpunished violence against the press.
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“A reality that has not improved in recent years, and if anything appears to be on the decline given increased threats to civil liberties, limits on religious activity and the continued harassment and detention of journalists.”
âUnder the current administration, journalists have been threatened and arrested for attending rallies, criticizing public figures, exposing government corruption and refusing to disclose their sources to security authorities. The suspension of access to Twitter in June 2021 in the country was just another example of how the space for dissent is closed in Nigeria. “
In addressing issues related to rights violations, the report reminded the government of its fundamental responsibility to protect lives.
He urged civil society organizations to âcontribute to the training of security professionals in the conduct of ethical civil-military operations. They should also continue to defend victims of human rights violations and help them obtain redress. “
âNews houses should prioritize investigative journalism that focuses on human rights issues to bring the abuses to the attention of more Nigerians.
âThe media can help hold government accountable and can be involved in educating the public about their rights and remedies. “
The report advised Nigerians to actively participate in politics, engaging “local leaders and elected officials outside of election times to support these demands.”
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