In its annual report for this year on the state of human rights, it said the country’s human rights situation has deteriorated. It has accused the police of being responsible for hundreds of unlawful killings in the country.
-Nigeria’s human rights situation deteriorated.
-Hundreds of people were killed in politically motivated, communal and sectarian violence across the country, particularly after the April elections.
-Violent attacks attributed to the religious sect Boko Haram increased, killing more than 500 people.
-The police were responsible for hundreds of unlawful killings, most of which remained uninvestigated.
-The justice system remained ineffective. Around two thirds of all prison inmates were still awaiting trial. There were 982 people on death row. No executions were reported.
-Forced evictions continued throughout the country, and violence against women remained rife.
In April, President Goodluck Jonathan was declared the winner of the country’s presidential elections. Violent attacks and rioting followed, resulting in hundreds of deaths. The President signed into law several bills, including the National Human Rights Commission Act in February; the Freedom of Information Act in May; and the Legal Aid Act and the Terrorism Act in June.
The National Human Rights Commission was given power to investigate human rights violations and visit police stations and other places of detention. By the end of the year, however, funds for the Commission had not been released.
Corruption remained endemic. In November, the President dismissed the Chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, six months before her tenure was due to end. No explanation was given. He also approved a 12,500 naira (US$76) increase in the monthly minimum wage to 18,000 naira (US$117). 1.3 million people remained internally displaced throughout the country.
Unlawful killings and enforced disappearances
Police operations remained characterized by human rights violations. Hundreds of people were unlawfully killed, often before or during arrests on the street. Others were tortured to death in police detention. Many such unlawful killings may have constituted extrajudicial executions. Many people disappeared from police custody. Few police officers were held accountable, leaving relatives of those killed or disappeared without justice. Police increasingly wore plain clothes or uniforms without identification, making it much harder for people to complain about individual officers.
On 19 April, Chibuike Orduku was arrested by police at his home in Ubinini, Rivers State, and detained along with three unidentified men. Chibuike Orduku was last seen by his sister on 5 May. He reported being tortured and denied food and water. The whereabouts of all four men remained unknown.
On 2 November, police from the Port Harcourt Swift Operation Squad (SOS) killed three men in Abonnema Wharf and arrested four others. Two were later released while the other two were remanded in prison. Eyewitnesses said the community was peaceful before the police arrived. The police refused to release the three men’s corpses to their relatives for burial. No investigation had been carried out by the end of the year.
Special task forces, including the Special Anti Robbery Squads and SOS, committed a wide range of human rights violations. In early 2011, the Bayelsa State government set up Operation Famou Tangbe – “kill and throw away” in the local language – to fight crime. Many officers linked to the operation reportedly unlawfully killed, tortured, arbitrarily arrested and detained people. Suspects in detention reportedly had no access to their lawyers or relatives.
On 22 February, Dietemepreye Ezonasa, a student aged 22, was arrested by Operation Famou Tangbe and taken to a police station. On 27 February, the police denied that he was in their custody. His whereabouts have since remained unknown.
On 11 May, Tochukwu Ozokwu, 25, was arrested by Operation Famou Tangbe. The next day the police told him to jump in a river or be shot. He could not swim and drowned. No investigation was carried out.
In September, the Federal Government stopped Operation Famou Tangbe. The human rights violations committed while it was active remained uninvestigated.
The police frequently disobeyed court orders.
The police refused to release Mallam Aliyu Tasheku, a suspected Boko Haram member, after a court granted him bail on 28 March. He was finally released in July.
The police failed to produce Chika Ibeku, who disappeared from police custody in April 2009, more than a year after a court ordered that he be brought to court.
The majority of cases remained uninvestigated and unpunished. Some relatives were threatened when they sought justice.
Catherine Akor continued to receive death threats after suing the police for the unlawful killing of her son, Michael Akor, and his friend, Michael Igwe, in June 2009.
Torture and other ill-treatment
There were consistent reports of police routinely torturing suspects to extract information. Confessions extracted under torture were used as evidence in court, in violation of national and international laws.
Scores of people were rounded up by the police and security forces in relation to northern Nigeria’s ongoing violence, but few were successfully prosecuted or convicted. Previous commissions of inquiry into the Plateau State violence reportedly named suspected perpetrators, but no criminal investigations were started during the year.
Nigeria’s criminal justice system remained under-resourced, blighted by corruption and generally distrusted. When investigations occurred, they were often cursory and not intelligence-led. The security forces often resorted to dragnet arrests instead of individual arrests based on reasonable suspicion. Suspects were regularly subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in detention.
Court processes were slow, resulting in most detainees being kept in lengthy pre-trial detention in appalling conditions. Seventy per cent of Nigeria’s 48,000 prison inmates had not been tried. Many had awaited trial for years. Few could afford a lawyer.
In August, the Federal Government set up a Committee on the Implementation of Justice Sector Reforms to draft legislation, guidelines and recommendations and implement these within 24 months.
Violence against women and girls
Domestic violence, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls by state officials and individuals remained rife. The authorities consistently failed to prevent and address sexual violence, or to hold perpetrators to account.
Freedom of expression
A pattern emerged of intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders and journalists, with several being threatened, beaten or arrested by police and security forces. Politicians increasingly used their influence to secure the arrest of people criticizing the authorities.
In January, Patrick Naagbanton, the Co-ordinator of CEHRD, a Nigerian human rights NGO, received multiple death threats.
On 9 November, Justine Ijeoma, the Director of the NGO Human Rights, Social Development and Environmental Foundation (Hursdef), was arrested after intervening to stop a police officer beating a woman. He was released after being detained for several hours. He and his staff were threatened by the police throughout the year.
In October, Osmond Ugwu, a human rights defender from Enugu State, and Raphael Elobuike were arrested at a peaceful trade union meeting in Enugu after campaigning for the minimum wage to be implemented. They were subsequently charged with conspiracy to murder and attempted murder. In December, the Attorney General appeared in court to personally oppose the bail application. The judge adjourned his ruling on bail until January 2012.