Understanding Nigerian Torture Prohibition Bill

By Abubakar Jimoh

Over the years, Nigerian security forces have been regarded among the crudest in the world as a result of the intentional use of excessive force and extra-judicial killing, verbal attacks and psychological intimidation reportedly mounted on a suspect to extract confessional statements and killing of robbery suspects without judicial trial.

While observing torture in part of Nigerian Police, in 2010, an article titled “The Psychological Effects of Police Brutality and Torture” written by Law Mefor, Consulting Psychologist and National coordinator of Transform Nigeria Movement confirms that with Nigeria as a typical example, police brutality exists in many countries. He regarded police brutality as one of several forms of police misconduct, which include false arrest, intimidation, racial profiling, political repression, surveillance abuse, sexual abuse, and police corruption.

Mefor wrote: “Police brutality is closely related to torture. Torture could actually be an extreme form of police brutality. Technically, the term ‘police brutality’ is now generically used to cover all government security agencies – police, prisons, military, name it. One aspect of torture that must engage our attention here is psychological torture, which is less well known than physical torture and tends to be subtle and much easier to conceal.

“In practice, the distinctions between physical and psychological torture are often blurred. Physical torture is the inflicting of severe pain or suffering on a person. In contrast, psychological torture is directed at the psyche with calculated violations of psychological needs, along with deep damage to psychological structures and the breakage of beliefs underpinning normal sanity. Torturers often inflict both types of torture in combination to compound the associated effects.

“In Nigeria, these forms of torture are everywhere you have government security agencies operating, especially the police and the prison. The police cells and prisons are punitively run in Nigeria to inflict maximum psychological damage. If it is not intended, then, it has become a huge achievement by default.”

Similarly, in August 15, 2013, a report published by the Vanguard Newspaper lamented that the deployed Joint Task Force including both military and police in the northeast “…have been accused of widespread atrocities. These have included summary executions, arbitrary arrests and torture, according to leading rights groups.”

A recent research titled “Welcome to Hell Fire – Torture and Other Ill-treatment in Nigeria” published by Amnesty International revealed that countless people have suffered, and continued to suffer torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (hereinafter ill-treatment) in the hands of the Nigerian security forces, including the police and military.

Conversely, relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantee the right to freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment. Consequently, any act of torture is a violation of human rights. Just as section 33(1) of the Constitution guarantees the right to life and states: “Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty.”

Meanwhile, the only permissible limitations on the right to life are contained in section 33(2) of the Constitution, which provides that a person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section, if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary: (a) For the defence of any person from unlawful violence or property; (b) In order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or (c) For the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.

Thus, any killing not within the context of section 33(1) & (2) above will be unlawful and illegal.

In the context of the United Nations General Assembly, torture constitutes an aggravated and deliberate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. To the European Commission on Human Rights, the word ‘torture’ is often used to describe inhuman treatment, which has a purpose such as the obtaining of information or confessions, or the infliction of punishment, and is generally an aggregate form of inhuman treatment.

Also, the European Commission on Human Rights, while interpreting a provision under the European Convention similar to section 33(1) of the Nigerian Constitution, maintained that right to life imposes obligations on states to take appropriate steps to safeguard life including taking appropriate steps to promote security and prevent murder and other crimes threatening life. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has equally noted that the right to life includes a duty to prevent wars, acts of genocide and other acts of mass violence causing arbitrary loss of life.

Section 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that “…no person shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment”.

Report by Amnesty International highlighted that torture and other ill-treatment are absolutely prohibited, at all times, by the international human rights law, including the International Convention against Torture (CAT) – both of which Nigeria is a party to. Acts of torture and certain types of other ill-treatment are crimes under international law. The Nigerian Constitution also prohibits torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment.

Despite the above, Amnesty International observed that torture and other ill-treatment are routine practice in criminal investigations across Nigeria. Suspects in police and military custody across the country are subjected to torture as punishment or to extract ‘’confessions’’ as A shortcut to ‘solve’ cases – particularly armed robbery and murder.

According to the report, many police sections in various states, including the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and Criminal Investigation Division (CID), have “torture chambers”: special rooms where suspects are “torture”, such chamber are sometimes under the charge of an officer known informally as “O/C Torture” (Officer in Charge of Torture).

In a recent press statement in Abuja, Amnesty International has called on the Nigerian legislature for speedy passage of Anti-torture Bill also known as a ‘Bill for an Act Penalizing the Commission of Acts of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishments, Prescribing Penalties Thereof and for Other Purposes’ into law, primarily criminalises torture as a means of extracting information and confession from suspects in detention cells across the country.

The Bill if passed into the law will help to: ensure the rights of all persons, including suspects, detainees and prisoners are respected at all times; and that no person placed under investigation or held in custody of any person in authority shall be subjected to mental and psychological harm, physical harm, force, violence, threat or intimidation or any act that impairs his/her free will; and  fully adhere to the principles and standards on the absolute condemnation and prohibition of torture set by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and various international instruments to which Nigeria is a State party.

The Bill attributes torture to physical torture, which shall be understood as referring to such cruel, inhuman  or  degrading treatment  which  causes  pain,  exhaustion,  disability  or dysfunction of one or parts of the body, suchas: systematic beatings, head‐bangings, punching, kicking, striking with rifle butts and jumping on the stomach; food deprivation or forcible feeding with spoiled food, animal or human excreta  or other food not normally eaten; electric shocks; cigarette burning, burning by electrically heated rods, hot oil, acid; by the rubbing of pepper or other chemical substances on mucous membranes, or acids or spices directly on the wounds; the submersion of the head in water or water polluted  with excrement, urine, vomit and/or  until the brink of suffocation; being tied or forced to assume fixed and stressful bodily positions; rape and sexual abuse, including the insertion of foreign bodies into the sex organs or rectum or electrical torture of the genitals; other forms of sexual abuse;   mutilation, such as amputation of the essential parts of the body such as the genitalia, ears, tongue, etc; dental torture or the forced extraction of the teeth; harmful exposure to the elements such as sunlight and extreme cold; the use of plastic bags and other materials placed over the head to the point of asphyxiation; the use of psychoactive drugs to change the perception, memory alertness or will of a person; other forms of  aggravated  and  deliberate  cruel,  inhuman  or  degrading physical and/or pharmacological treatment or punishment; and mental/psychological torture, which shall be understood as referring to such cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment calculated to affect or confuse the mind.

The Bill further holds that  “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture”; and prohibits “secret  detention  places,  solitary  (except  for  public  health  reason  or security  of  co‐inmates),  incommunicado  or  other  similar  forms  of  detention, where torture may be carried on with impunity”.

In a report titled “Nigeria: Navigating Secrecy in the Vetting and Selection of Peacekeepers” launched by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), it was revealed that corruption, especially in relation to the payment of allowances for peacekeepers has been responsible for undermining the morale of peacekeepers and has also been a cause for indiscipline among the contingents, including possibly sexual exploitation and abuse and other human rights violations.

According to CISLAC, “Over the years, sexual exploitation and abuse and human rights violations by members of the Nigeria Armed Forces and the Nigeria Police Force have been rampant with no proactive responses by the concerned institutions to deal with the situation in a systematic manner that would win the confidence of the public.

“There is ground to suspect that training for peacekeepers is inadequate. In particular the curriculum for the police is severely undeveloped and there are critical gaps in areas that are vital to effective policy, such as forensics and crime management, special victims, human rights and information technology.”

Moreover, Amnesty International has argued in support of CISLAC when it confirms in its recent report that “The risk of torture and other ill-treatment is exacerbated by the endemic corruption in policing. …police often detain people, sometimes in large dragnet operations, as a pretext to obtain bribes, alleging involvement in various offences ranging from wandering (loitering) to robbery. Those who are unable to pay bribe for their release are often torture as punishment, or to coerce them to find the money for their release. They also risk being labeled as an ‘armed robber’ and are then at further risk of being torture to extract a confession. Suspect without money are also less likely to be able to access a lawyer, family members or medical treatment. Rape by police is a common method of torture inflicted primarily on women. Sex workers and women believed to be sex workers are particularly targeted by the police either for further bribers or rape.”

The above among other related issues call for the prompt passage of the Anti-Torture Bill to safe Nigerians from culture of impunity and violations by security forces.

PRESS RELEASE-69th Session for First Ladies of UN: CISLAC calls for Equal Opportunities for Women

As the world gathered on Tuesday, 23rd September, 2014 to hold a High level Forum at United Nations General Assembly 69th Session for First Ladies of UN Member States to discuss on the gaps, health challenges and picture areas of concern from the Beijing +20 on Women Reproductive and Sexual Health, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) observes as follow:

  1. Women constitute over 50 percent of the world’s population; perform two-third of the world’s work, yet receive one-tenth of the world’s income; represent a staggering seventy percent of the world’s one billion poorest people.
  2. Nigeria has the highest population of in African continent with 38 percent of its women lacking formal education as against 25 percent for men and only four percent of women have higher education against the seven percent of their male counterpart.
  3. In Nigeria, majority of girls and women face real-time poverty, gross inequality, molestation and injustice, denying them effort to acquire meaningful skills and contribute positively towards the nation’s development.
  4. Series of discrimination and atrocities against women include poor education, poor nutrition, violence and brutalization, vulnerability and low pay employment.
  5. Since democratic rule in 1999, women are under-represented in all key political decision making bodies in Nigeria, as only 25 out of the 360 members of the Nigerian House of Representatives and about 4% of local government councillors are women.
  6. In Nigeria, every 10 minutes one woman dies from conditions associated with childbirth; and only 39% births take place with assistance of medically trained personnel, coupled with the scarcity of skilled attendants, absence of personnel among other factors impede the effectiveness of health services in the country.
  7. In eight Northern States, over 80% of women are unable to read (compared with 54% for men), as reported by UK Department for International Development (DFID) in 2012; owing to some traceable factors such as lack of funds, existing traditional and religious inclination, non-provision of educational facilities by government, poor funding of the educational sector, weak educational policies, early marriage, early childbirth, poor sanitation and ignorance.
  8. Nigeria records one of the lowest rates of female entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa; with majority of women concentrating in casual, low-skilled, low paid informal sector employment.

Recommendations

  1. Appreciable effort at the local, national or international platform recognising girls and women as equal players in the game of life whilst empowering, up-skilling and investing in them for a better world.
  2. Full-fledged implementation of 35% Affirmative Action for Women by governments at all levels to encourage appreciative participation of women as leaders and decision-makers in households, communities, and in the public and private sphere in the nation’s political decision making.
  3. Passage into Law the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill at the Federal and State levels in order to domesticate the CEDAW and AU Women’s Protocol; and immediate passage of the Violence against Women Bill currently in the National Assembly.
  4. Improved access to education and eliminating gender gaps in education, proper individual orientation, mass public awareness and sensitization on the provisions of the Rights of Women.
  5. Massive awareness campaign by civil society, media and government at all levels on gender equality and against violence on women.
  6. Adequate healthcare infrastructural facilities to restore human dignity, rights and provide accountability for maternal health; and massive recruitment of additional skilled health manpower.
  7. Strengthening Nigeria’s criminal justice system to checkmate abuses and violation against women.
  8. Effective rehabilitation, recovery and reintegration programmes through medical, psychological and legal services for women suffering from domestic violence and sexual abuse. Signed Executive Director of CISLAC
  9. Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)

HOUSE OF REPS PASSES NFIC BILL

The Nigerian House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon passed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Center Bill.

The bill which was earlier passed by the Senate seeks to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Center to perform the traditional function of collecting, analyzing and disseminating financial intelligence to law enforcement agencies and other authorized entities.

It is designed to provide a sustainable and credible legal framework for the Financial Intelligence Center-FIC, Nigeria. As is the accepted practice in other jurisdictions, the Bill seeks to provide the FIC with operational independence and autonomy, and greater ability to provide financial intelligence to all relevant competent authorities in order to strengthen anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures.

The NFIC Bill was a subject of controversy following what pundits describe as “several misconceptions caused by distortion of facts by those opposed to its passage.”

It would be recalled that the third reading and passage of the Bill suffered setback following a strong opposition from a group in the lower Chamber, who earlier claimed not to have received copies of the report of the House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial crimes.

Reacting to the passage of the bill, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba described it as another show of the commitment of the present House leadership in the war against money laundering, terrorism and corruption in Nigeria.

Jagaba commended his colleagues for their support, even as he spoke of the need for credible and competent persons to be appointed to head the Center.

Adding his voice, Executive Director, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption-MIIVOC, Walter Duru commended the lawmakers for the passage, even as he challenged them on other related anti-corruption bills.

He described the proposed Nigeria Financial Intelligence Center as central to the success of the war against money laundering and terrorist financing in Nigeria.

Duru, a Communication and Civil Society expert reiterated the commitment of the Initiative to sustaining the war against corruption in Nigeria, describing it as the country’s greatest problem.

“MIIVOC shall never relent in this struggle. Corruption is Nigeria’s greatest and most formidable problem. We also urge the lawmakers to make haste to pass other related anti-corruption related bills, especially, the Proceeds of Crime, Whistle Blowers Protection and Mutual Legal Assistance Bills.”

This NFIC Bill is aimed to establish a national agency that will be responsible for the receipt of information from financial institutions and designated non-financial institutions, analysis of the financial information for the purpose of turning this information into financial intelligence and dissemination of the financial intelligence to all law enforcement agencies.

The Bill will ensure that the NFIU is not tied to any agency but will have adequate measures to build an independent financial intelligence system.

Source: FOI Coalition

COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE END OF THE BI-MONTHLY MEETING OF THE PEACE AND SECURITY FORUM (PSF) HELD IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM OF THE INSTITUTE FOR PEACE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT, ABUJA ON THE 22ND SEPTEMBER, 2014

Preamble

The Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) in collaboration with the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) convened the Bi-Monthly meeting of the Peace and Security Forum with the support from Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP). The epoch meeting reflected on the on-going security challenges and mapped strategies on early warning and response around the 2015 general elections. Presentation was made on the “New Security Architecture for Nigeria” by General Ishola Williams. Security Institutions represented at the meeting included but not limited to Defence Headquarters, Army Headquarters, National Defence College, Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Prisons Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Directorate of Security Service, Ministry of Defence, Federal Fire Service, ECOWAS Early Warning Directorate, INEC, NEMA, NOA, NPC. The meeting drew synergy between social system theory of the right of people & environment to peace and the culture, tradition and religious belief as mitigation source.

The forum agreed to convene a National Workshop for a wide range of actors in coordination of Data base generation, early warning System, mediation and conflict management.

Observations

    • The absence of an integrated security communication infrastructure and coordination in Nigeria has adversely affected the changing security landscape thereby undermining the strategic efforts of security agencies.
    • Nigeria has not developed a reviewed post-colonial National Security/Defence Policy since independence that gives citizens freedom from fear and needs, people centered and places responsibilities on both the leadership and followership structure to respect the rule of law using the horizontal and vertical approach.
    • There is a regional expectation towards the 2015 elections as transitions in Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso, Gunea and Cote de Ivoire to create a resource pool for all stakeholders to engage constructively for conflict free and credible elections and all eyes are on Nigeria to set the pace.
    • Weak Financial Intelligence Unit, justice systems and policies has undermined development, stability, peace and security of citizens has increasingly created gaps and leakages in the security architecture in Nigeria.
    • Part of the peace deficit in Nigeria is largely caused by the influx of illegal immigrants despite efforts to police the boarders effectively, inadequate synergy and capacity of Nigeria Customs Service and Immigration Services, climatic condition necessitating migration of pastoralists and inadequate prosecution of electoral offenders.
    • A paradigm shift in the security architecture coordination to make community policing and internal security more efficient was described as long overdue.    

 

Recommendations

Peace and Security Forum resolved to deploy advocacy to NIGCOMSAT, NASREA and NIM-C to incubate experts’ opinion in its policy recommendation on the efficient integration of communication to enhance human security in Nigeria.

  • The country needs a viable National Security Policy, Office of the National Security Adviser was charged to conduct a multi stakeholder’s consultation at all level to harvest a wide spectrum input for a sustainable contemporary security policy.
  • As parts of efforts to towards a free, fair and credible election in 2015, the forum decided to engage in civic education, training of security agencies involved in election observation a well as integration into the NSRP media training on conflict sensitive reporting.
  • Peace and Security Forum recommended the need to strengthen traditional conflict mechanism in the country, strengthen financial intelligence unit to respond to change in the financial landscape with strong emphasis to the government to enforce the cashless policy as a panacea to stabilize the country security system.
  • There is need to build synergy between Nigeria Customs and the Immigration Services on the innovation and maintenance of electronic plazas at all entry and exit points for effective boarder management with adequate logistic support from government to check and monitor illegal immigrants.
  • Vertical and horizontal information system should be adopted by the decision makers within an organization to carry along all stakeholders as this will bridge all communication gaps and carry host community along.
  • The Forum reinforced the need for the Office of the National Security Adviser to look critically on the need to strengthen internal security at community, state and national level in the final draft of the security policy.

 Conclusion

Participants thanked Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with the support from Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP) for providing the platform for taking a step further in security development engagement. The process was acclaimed to be catalytic to strategizing towards a credible 2015 general elections. The economic, political and cultural dimensions undermining the work of the military was extensively discussed as issues that should be responded to appropriately.

Signed:

Prof. Oshita O. Oshita

Director General

Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR)

Abuja

Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)

Executive Director

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)

Abuja

Juliet Ojetabu ESQ

National Orientation Agency

Abuja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE END OF CAPACITY BUILDING SESSIONS FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS IN THE NORTH EAST ORGANIZED BY CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE (CISLAC) WITH SUPPORT NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED) AT GOMBE AND BAUCHI, FROM THE 10TH TO 12TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER 2014

 

 Preamble

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) organized capacity building sessions for Civil Society Organizations in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Bauchi with the support from National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The capacity building sessions was targeted at improving effectiveness, transfer capacity, sharpen knowledge and competence. The sessions, which were held in Gombe and Bauchi respectively between September 10th and 12th, 2014, looked at internal processes and governance structure of organizations with a view to strengthen their institutional capacities for effective and sustainable engagement. The sessions were highly participatory and were dominated by group work. Participants expressed satisfaction at the contents of the modules and how it has promoted their knowledge and would help their organizations and local partners.

Observations

    • Strategic planning processes and tools of most CSOs is weak and missing in most cases thereby creating weak vision, missions and goals.
    • There is huge gender disparity in the governance structure of over 90% CSOs in the North East which has largely affected women participation in decision making, gender mainstreaming in programming and activities as well as lopsided recommendations on women and youth advocacies.
    • The attraction and dynamics underpinning the legal status of any organization is the availability of internal policies, procedures and physical presence for ease of access from intending partners and confers certain privileges.
    • Absence of peace and security in the North East has adversely affected the accessibility of most CSOs to funding, civic engagement and advocacy. Staff and Program management has become increasingly difficult.
    • The region still remains the most challenging considering the instability thereby proving opportunities for engagement for CSOs in the reconstruction of the region looking at post insurgency and even peace building efforts.
    • Weak Information Management system, inadequate capacity for youth and CSOs as well as gaps in grassroots programs are panacea for an ineffective Management Architecture since that is the functional structure of an organization.
    • CSOs still depends 100% on external funding within the region without looking at Creative Avenue to source internally generated revenue for purposes of sustainability.
    • The absence of strong internal structures, operational policies and documented organizational procedures constitute a challenge for groups in the region limiting the level of institutionalization necessary for effective engagement

 

Recommendations

  • Participants rose from the meeting with renewed commitment to mainstream women and youth into the governance structure of organizations as an attempt to improve women participation and close the existing gaps by 50% by 2015.
  • There is need for CSOs to broaden strategic planning processes and tools and make them even more effective with a SMART – G component to clearly articulate vision, mission and goals.
  • Civil Society Organizations should strongly advocate for peace and security in the region and look out for opportunities and constantly mitigate risk by determining key core values and principle that which must be shared by all arms of structures within the organization.
  • CSOs in the region should as a matter of urgency begin to ratify registration processes, finalize administrative, finance, gender and disability policies to place them in vantage positions for development partnership.
  • CSOs should engage in constructively in the pre and post insurgency in the region as this will strengthen activity profile in readiness for the baskets of opportunities heading towards the region.
  • Vertical and horizontal information system should be adopted by the decision makers within an organization to carry along all stakeholders as this will bridge all communication gaps and carry host community along.
  • CSOs should embark upon the institutionalization of their organizations and  so that they can engender the necessary confidence that would allow them access to resources and capacity for effective and sustainable  engagement for development in the region.

 Conclusion

Participants thanked CISLAC with the support from NED for providing the platform for taking a step further in development engagement. The process was acclaimed to be catalytic to strategizing the ground norms of organizations in the North East to keep focus on beyond insurgency. The operating environment is germane to the work of organizations in the region thereby the need to carry out internal assessment to understand the organization in terms of its resources and competencies and networks.

SWOT analysis carried out during the entire process provided participating organizations fair opportunities to measure how far they have fared and what input they needed to improve upon. The Participants were also given take away tasks which must be concluded and submitted with evidence as a condicion for subsequent engagements.

Signed:

 Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)

Executive Director

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Abuja