The shabby reputation of the Nigeria Police Force has been further dented by a fresh claim that the many police stations in the country have an informal torture officer.
This declaration was made by Amnesty International which, in its latest report, which says both the military and police use a wide range of torture methods including beatings, nail and teeth extractions and sexual violence.
According to the report, a woman accused of theft in Lagos said she was sexually assaulted, and had tear gas sprayed into her vagina. The Federal Government is yet to respond to Amnesty International’s report.
Entitled Welcome To Hell Fire, the report says people are often detained in large dragnet operations and tortured as punishment, to extort money or to extract “confessions” as a way to solve crimes.
The use of torture is particularly extreme in the north-east in the war against Boko Haram Islamist militants, says Amnesty
The UK-based rights group says between 5,000 and 10,000 people have been arrested there since 2009, and executions in overcrowded detention facilities are common.
A teenage boy was among 50 people arrested by the army in Pokiskum in Yobe state last year on suspicion being a member of the Boko Haram.
At the time, he was 15 years old and spent three weeks in custody in Damaturu, where he said he was repeatedly beaten hit with gun butts and batons.
Amnesty says the report was compiled using 500 interviews during 20 separate visits to Nigeria since 2007.
“Across the country, the scope and severity of torture inflicted on Nigeria’s women, men and children by the authorities supposed to protect them is shocking to even the most hardened human rights observer,” said Amnesty’s Netsanet Belay.
Even though torture is prohibited under the constitution, Amnesty notes that Nigeria’s politicians have yet to pass a bill to criminalise it.
It says security forces enjoy a climate of impunity and the criminal justice system is riddled with corruption.