FULL TEXT OF LETTER WRITTEN TO RIVERS STATE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE BY CIVIL RIGHTS COUNCIL ON THE USE OF CUTLASS BY POLICE OFFICERS UNDER HIS COMMAND TO TORTURE SUSPECTS
4th November 2019
The Commissioner of Police,
Rivers State Police Command,
ATTN O/C Human Rights Rivers State Police Command
Commissioner E-Crack Unit
Special Anti-Robbery Squad
Anti-Kidnapping & Cultism
Violation of human rights by security operatives using cutlass to torture suspects
Civil Rights Council is a community based human rights organisation with branches across the country. Our interests are in the promotion of human rights, the rule of law and the advancement of democratic ethos and principles in Nigeria. In doing this, we join our collective strength to seek justice and address societal wrongs against the citizens of this nation. It is on this note that we seriously condemn the inhumane methods employed by security operatives to obtain confessions from suspects of crimes.
We have received reports that officers of the law torture suspects to obtain confessions and go to the extent of inflicting cutlass wounds on persons to obtain admission to the crime for which the persons were arrested for or any other crime. This goes against the spirit of the law and gravely contravenes the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the law upon which other laws derive their essence. The provisions of Chapter IV of the Constitution, specifically Section 34(a) provides against torture thus:
“Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly –
no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment”.
To emphasise the importance of protecting the rights of individuals against torture, the federal government of Nigeria passed a law to complement the constitutional provisions against torture, the Anti-Torture Act, 2017. The Act in condemning torture provided in Section 3 that no exceptional circumstance whatsoever may be invoked as a justification for torture. For further clarification the Act in Section 2 explained torture and states thus:
“Torture is deemed committed when an act by which pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person to;
obtain information or a confession from him or a third person
punish him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed
intimidate or coerce him or a third person for any reason based on discrimination of any kind
when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity, provided that it does not include pain or suffering in compliance with lawful sanction.”
It is clear that the Anti-Torture Act is directed at security operatives to ensure that the rights of suspects, detainees and prisoners are respected and protected from abuse by officers of the law. The security operatives in Rivers State are however in gross violation of this law and the Constitution and have conducted themselves in a manner unbefitting of law officers whose first responsibility is administering the law.
We advice that the police authorities and officials of each security agency in Rivers State immediately investigate these unlawful conducts, and see to its end. Again, officers found wanting should be made to face the law.
We appreciate the efforts of the security operatives in maintaining peace and order, but should this unlawful act continue, we would employ the legal means available to us to ensure justice.
Please, do the needful. A stitch in time saves nine.
Thanks for your anticipated co-operation.
Mercy Christopher, Esq. Arochukwu Paul Ogbonna Esq.
Legal Adviser National Coordinator