Advocates of protection and promotion of human rights in Nigeria have said that the spate of torture in the country was due largely to the inability of people to initiate actions against the perpetrators.
They stated that security officials had continued to engage in the act as if it was part of their responsibility, because Nigerians failed to enforce their rights by prosecuting the offending officers.
Head of Avocats Sans Frontieres office in Nigeria, Mrs. Angela Uwandu, who spoke with The Guardian at the end of a three-day training programme on promoting the United Nations convention against torture in Nigeria, held in Enugu, said that the issue was a worrisome one that required the support of all to be checked.
She stated that Enugu remained one of the states with high incidence of torture, because “there are no accountabilities being demanded from security operatives.”She said the state had a record of an average of 25 cases of victims of torture yearly, stressing that the number increased to 30 this year due to archaic and mundane methods being employed by security operatives to extract information on supposed victims of crimes and criminalities in the state.
Uwandu, who told participants at the training programme that included judges, lawyers, police, prisons, civil defence officials and journalists that it was illegally for citizens to be subjected to severe pains or suffering, intimidation or coercion with the aim of punishing or obtaining information or confession from him no matter the level of crime, said there should be elements of civility in trying to investigate crimes.
“Ordinary security agencies have the mandate to protect lives and security of residents generally but where they turn around to use acts of torture for whatever reason is an infringement on the rights of suspects, and individuals.She, therefore, implored stakeholders in the security sector to help guard against acts that could subject their fellow citizens to dehumanisation.
Also, Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Ngozi Emehelu, stated that information obtained through torture was either lies or half-truths and was unreliable or worthless.
She said: “Torture affects suspects. Since he makes false statement to evade pain, he may unfairly be convicted of a crime he did not commit while leaving the real suspects of crimes unpunished.”
“The use of torture on persons suspected of crimes iscounter-productive. It creates the desire for vengeance and produces more hatred and violence on the victim subjected to torture. It is both dehumanising and degrading, it is archaic and barbaric act that at times can cause both psychological and mental trauma resulting in poor health, loss of self-esteem and in extreme cases death of the victim.”
Emehelu, who stated that no exceptional circumstance might be accepted as justifiable reason for torture and, therefore, welcomed the provision of Section 17 of Administration of Criminal Law, 2017 Enugu State for the making and taking of statement of suspects to be recorded on video or other retrievable electronic devices and in the presence of a legal practitioner or any person of choice.She said it would help to combat incidences of human rights abuses and torture in the state and the country generally.