Date Published: 06/30/10
Report of the Public Tribunal on Police Abuse in Nigeria organized by Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) in collaboration with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) held at Merit House, Maitama Abuja from Thursday 1oth to Friday 11th June, 2010
- Opening: The event started with a welcome remark by the Chairman, National Coordinating Committee NOPRIN, Mr. Andy Nkemneme who apart from appreciating the participants noted that the public tribunal was aimed at providing opportunities for numerous survivors and relatives of victims of police abuse, particularly extrajudicial killing; torture, other in- human or degrading treatment or punishment; rape and sexual abuse, to testify about their horrific and sad experiences with the police. He added that a panel of carefully chosen eminent Nigerians would hear the testimonies and make recommendations with a view to ensuring that the victims of those abuses got adequate redress and the perpetrators appropriately brought to book.
- In his own address, the Honourable Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri, identified the apparent distrust between the public and the Nigerian Police which he attributed to a myriad of problems ranging from inadequacy in the quality of its personnel, improper operational standards, poor equipment, logistics, welfare, and so on. He emphasized that the combined effect of these deficiencies has had adverse effect on the capacity of the Nigerian police to fight crime, maintain law and face other challenges in a professional and people – friendly manner. He appealed to the organized private sector, the Human Rights and Civil Society Organisations to support the Police Reform project.
- Lending credence to the Government resolve for a better police in Nigeria, the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke SAN, represented by Mr. Tunde stated that the law enforcement institutions have constitutional and statutory responsibilities for the maintenance of law and order as well as protection of life and property. In the exercise of these functions however, the officers should be under legal duty to exercise their discretion with decorum. As further demonstration of Government Commitment towards ensuring respect, protection, and fulfillment of human rights of all persons in Nigeria, the Government has ratified both the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment and ITS optional protocol. Presently, he averred, the Bill to domesticate those instruments was been processed by the National Assembly.
- THE PUBLIC TRIBUNAL SESSION: the panel was constituted as follows:
- Dr. S. S. Ameh SAN (Chairman)
TESTIFIERS: A total of thirteen (13) testifiers appeared. Nine (9) were based on Torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; while four (4) were extra – judicial killings.
TORTURE, CRUEL, INHUMAN AND DEGRADING TREATMENT
1. Mr. Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha: Mr. Iwuoha who hails from Imo State, is a public affairs commentator, narrated how the Imo State Police Command and the Governor of the State, Ikedi Ohakim conspired to torture him from January 19th, 2010 to February 8, 2010.
The Commissioner of Police (C.P) Imo State, Mr. Aloysius Okorie, had around 3:34pm on 19th January 2010, called him for a chat in his office, but they agreed to meet Friday 22nd January 2010. The next day 20th January, he Samuelson called the C.P to reconfirm the appointment, which the C.P did not object to. At about 6:30am same day, five (5) armed policemen came knocking at his apartment in Ikenegbu, Owerri. The leader claimed the C.P. asked them to bring him, shocked by the development, he rang the C.P who reconfirmed on speaker phone his appointment with him for 22nd January to the hearing of the five armed men. But when he alerted the C.P of the presence of the Armed Policemen, he the C.P hesitated yet advised him to follow them. They took him to the Government House, where the Governor’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) pointed a gun at his head. Ikedi Ohakim himself in his office assaulted him and brought out copies of publications by him Samuelson, on how “Ikedi Ohakim loots Imo State”. To which the Governor furiously queried why the writer was against him. The Governor tore his shirt and ordered him to undress. In his helplessness, he obeyed. The Governor then gave him head butt pulled his horsewhip (Koboko) and gave him more than 120 lashes. Within the period, the Governor’s Brother Mr. Emma Ohakim a member of the cabinet walked in and screamed at the gory sight. When information came to the Governor that he had some visitors, he the Governor instructed him Samuelson to wear his boxers (pants) only. The visitors – the C.P Imo state and lady Director, SSS, Imo State, entered, identified him, and urged him to co-operate with His Excellency. He was later whisked away and detained at C.I.D cell containing more than 40 inmates. The next day he was taken to court and charged with criminal defamation of character. He was remanded in prison custody till February 8, 2010. After his bail, he went to Hospital for treatment to which he obtained the medical report. He has about four different cases with the government pending in courts.
The Panel identified the following issues:
- Mr. Iwuoha has a running battle with the Imo State Governor over allegations of fraud persistently leveled against the latter.
- He Iwuoha alleged cruel, inhuman and degrading (C.I.D.) treatment by the Government on 19/01/10. He claimed he was rendered nude in the governor’s office and beaten up mercilessly after arrest by police and detained in the Governor’s office.
- Commissioner of police Imo State allegedly witnessed the (C.I.D.) treatment together with the State SSS Director ( A lady)
- The Inspector General of police IGP should comprehensively investigate especially when officials of the Federal Government Security Agencies were said to be involved, particularly the CSO to the governor, the C.P. and the State Director, SSS.
- Culpability for torture is not only limited to the actual perpetrator but those who acquiesce to it.
TESTIFIER 2 Mr. PONFA I. NANSA is an artist resident at No. 2 Cocin Church Langtang, Plateau State. He narrated how his younger brother was arrested on 29th December, 2009 on false allegation of armed robbery and charged with same offence. He further recalled how police invaded their house on that fateful day, handcuffed his brother, broke his head, took away household property including generator. Police alleged that the Youngman was involved in a robbery incident in a local church, the scene of which police picked up a sim card that they claimed formed the lead for his brother’s arrest, torture and detention without arraignment.
The Panel noted the following:
- The brother was arrested and displayed in the market square as suspected armed robber on 20th December, 2009.
- Up till now, he has not been arraigned.
- The C.P. Legal (Police) CSP Henry Njoku immediately put up a call to C.P Plateau State and this resulted in immediate release of suspect.
- Suspect had spent six months in detention without trial.
1. Police should apologise and compensate the victim.
2. The entire practice of arresting to investigate instead of investigation leading to arrest should be discouraged.
TESTIFIER 3: Mr. Adaz Otu of Kogi State, a taxi driver based in Jos. His torture in the hands of two military men took place on 30th May, 2010 at about 9:30am. The incident however left him with serious health challenges. On the said date, around Ring Road Bauchi Road, he dropped a passenger and made for another bus stop at British Council, there, he was double-crossed by two men on a Bajaj motorcycle. They ordered him to come out of his taxi cab, to which he requested to know their identity. That request earned him a “big slap” they dragged him to the House of Gen. Jeremiah Useni where they stripped him naked, further assaulted him and threw him out on to the road. In the process, he lost valuable items including handset, receipts, and N75,000 cash. He was taken to JUTH for treatment, where he obtained medical report. He thereafter lodged complaints with the police through his counsel O. B. James & Co and the Zonal Coordinator NHRC Jos. He concluded that as at the public tribunal sitting, no response had been received.
Panel accordingly observed as follows:
1. Mr. Otu is a taxi driver in Jos Plateau State.
2. On Sunday 30th May, 2010, he was accosted by some military men guarding Gen. J. T. Useni’s house in Jos.
3. He was brutalized and tortured by them.
4. He lost valuable personal items including cash.
- The C.P Plateau State should investigate thoroughly by liaising with Chief of Army Staff to fish out the perpetrators for redress.
TESTIFIER 4: Akintayo M. Kehinde: The testifier, who resides in Kubwa, gave a vivid account of how the police subjected him to torture in February 2009. That fateful morning, a police officer came and invited him to the Kubwa station, where the allegation of his having stolen the car of Mr. Elvis Nwakwue, his neighour was levelled against him. The matter was transferred to police command for full investigation. Inspector Iliya and one Sgt. Idris were detailed to investigate. He was later re-arrested by the Abattoir section of Special Anti Robbery Squad SARS. There, ASP Ango brutalized him using iron rods while other police men descended on him. They took away his handset and other valuables.
After his bail, he went to state C.I.D to lodge a complaint, however, the department was surprised about the development. He was rushed to hospital where he also obtained a medical report.
He was of the opinion that his frame up was not unconnected with the incidents of his neighbour’s wife disrupting his prayer sessions by always washing her car at the prayer spot. A complaint he laid before the husband who received same with indifference.
1. The panel findings once again pointed to another torture case involving the SARS at Abbattoir, Abuja.
3. He was in possession of medical report.
1. The IGP should investigate especially ASP Ango’s role.
3. The Police should tender apology to the victim.
4. The victim (Survivor) should be compensated.
TESTIFIER 5:Mr. Solomon Ogbuewu Nwankwo
He in conjunction with Mr. Vincent came to register their complaints over the inhuman and degrading treatment meted out to their people of Ezza Ezillo in Ishelu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State by the police and military in concert with the state Government. According to him conflict started on May 10th, 2008, at the market square but spread to Ezza and Ezillo. As a way of quelling the crisis, the state government set up a panel of inquiry which the Ezza’s boycotted. However, the Government on 2nd October, 2008, went ahead to implement the recommendations of the report asking the Ezzas to relocate to another area. Drawing from History, Mr. S.O. Nwankwo traced how in the 1930s the Ezillos invited the Ezzas to assist them fight a war. After the successful outing, the elders of Ezillo transferred ownership of a large expanse of land to the Ezzas for settlement. Attempt by the Ezillo’s to revoke the ownership and repossess the territory had always been resisted.
Faced with the seeming opposition, the Ezzas went to court but matter lingered.
More disturbing was the persistence of the Government who resorted to the use of military to force people out and in the process killed inhabitants of Ezza extraction. Remarkably on April, 4th, 2010 more than 2,000 policemen were deployed to flush out the Ezzas. Police shot randomly and killed many, social and economic activities were brought to a halt. Inhabitants so arrested were still languishing in police cells.
1. The communal crisis has become intractable.
2. The Ezza Community has lost confidence in the Nigerian Police as they allege indiscriminate arrest of their peoples to the pleasure of the Ezillo people.
- The issues involved need to be more painstakingly investigated by the police and the Ebonyi State Government.
- The confidence of the people of Ezza should be regained by the police. Peace can not be achieved without all the parties taken into confidence.
- Peace building strategies should be adopted by the Ebonyi State Government.
TESTIFIER 6: SUNDAY KEHINDE from Ogun State residing at Dutse Makaranta Police Signboard Bus Stop Dutse, Abuja.
On October 19th 2009, a customer Bashir brought his car for work on the Air conditioner. He advised, the compressor be changed, which was valued at N62, 000 only. He bought the items and started work on the car. Later the man came back demanding the where about of a black nylon containing N1.2million in the car. He told him he didn’t have any knowledge of such. The man called his brother with the EFCC; they interrogated him for 2 hours at EFCC. Later they arrested him and detained him at Maitama police station, where he got a lawyer and procured bail at N45, 000. After some days, police said the bail had been revoked and he was re-arrested and detained by the SARS Abattoir Abuja for almost two (2) weeks. While in detention, the police tortured him, the most visible being a battered and broken leg which has defied management by Hospitals. Also the cost of the treatment remained enormous. The SARS also carted away all his household property and instructed his landlord to eject him. The landlord however declined but rather attested to his good conduct. He was not arraigned before any court.
Issues established by the panel
1. Victim was first arrested and detained by the EFCC.
2. He was detained at the FCT police, later transferred to SARS Abattoir were he was tortured.
3. He was badly brutalized.
4. He ended up with a deformed leg.
5. He named some police officers as responsible for his torture.
6. His property were carted away by police without any warrant.
- The IGP should investigate with a view to establishing the culpability of the named officers who should be made to face the law.
- Public apology should be tendered to him by the police.
- He should be adequately compensated for the Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment meted out to him.
TESTIFIER 7: Egwuonu Chika Emmanuel a trader on behalf of Garki Model Market Association.
He narrated how the traders have been constantly harassed by the police over the disputed right of management of the market between the Builders APP-Aso Timdors investment Ltd. and the Abuja Market management Limited AMML.
The AMML came and levied the traders N2, 500 per month, to which they offered to negotiate. Later the builders instituted a case and warned the traders not to pay anything until the court case was disposed off. Police had consistently invaded the market, disrupted the traders Association’s meetings and arrested many of the traders. Mr. Egwuonu C.E. himself was detained at the Nyanya station. Thereafter, the Gudu upper Area Magistrate Court determined a case that sent him to Keffi prison.
Prayer: Mr. Anthony Olofu DPO Garki should obey court orders and leave the traders alone. The police should also stop the intimidation and harassment of traders while the matter lasts in court.
Panel pointed out three major issues:
- Prima facie case of cruel, in human and degrading treatment established.
- Report of disobedient of court orders.
- Partisan involvement of police in the market matters.
- IGP should institute a comprehensive investigation into the matter especially against Garki DPO Mr. Attoney Olofu.
- Government should be seen to encourage obedience to law and order by restraining police.
- Indiscriminate arrest, detention and torture should be discouraged but resort to law in settlement of the issues involved.
TESTIFIER 8: PASTOR TRIUMPH S.A. Aku of No. 8 Gado Hospital Road, Gboko, testified on behalf of his younger brother, Moses Ber Aku a victim of police torture with consequent mental challenge. The victim was presented but appeared not to be together to even narrate his ordeal.
Young Moses, a part three drop out of Benue State University, had on February, 10th 2010, lost his father, arrangements for the late father’s burial engaged Moses who in the course of that was arrested by the police on 21st February, 2010. By the same day, police brought him in a van “Operation Zinda” He was brutalized and later taken to state CID Makurdi, Police accused him of being in possession of hard drugs. Sgt. Gabriel Toka was the IPO. Because of the strike embarked upon by the court workers he was abandoned in the cell. Police later changed the allegation to cult membership and continued their investigation of him.
While in police custody, he was handcuffed, chained and stripped naked. He was inflicted with deep cuts on the head. Request to police to allow him witness his late father’s burial was turned down. Determined not to give up, their in law contacted the State Governor, who revealed that the police Headquarters arrested the young man in the case of culpable homicide and criminal conspiracy. Eventually, for the third time, the allegations changed, once again. To further demonstrate the agony his younger brother passed through, he displayed photographs taken of the brutalized victim.
Panel was particular about the following:
- Police tortured victim in Makurdi both physically and psychologically.
- The Victim has lost touch with reality; he is now a shadow of himself.
- He can neither articulate nor reason properly; even hardly eats.
- The I.P.O Gabriel Toka was implicated.
- IGP should conduct a comprehensive investigation.
- Everyone involved or implicated should be brought to book.
- Police should apologize to the victim and family.
- The victim should be rehabilitated by police.
TESTIFIER 9: ONOME DEMI EJEGI
As if police inhumanity to fellow Nigerian citizens was not enough so far two police officers on 23rd May 2010, according to the vivid account rendered by Onome Denin Ejegi, accosted him with his two younger brothers around 9:30pm when they went to have their dinner. Attracted by the black nylon bag he claimed he put the dress of his customers being a designer, the police demanded to know the content. One of them equally demanded to know his identity to which he displayed his national identity card. Not satisfied, they ordered him to show the receipt of purchase of his Handset. Then ready to pounce on their prey, one police Garba, jacked him up and brutalized him. Severally, the squabble lingered will another passerby policeman Constable Henry of Mabushi station requested his irate colleagues to leave him. Some days after, Sgt. Balogun arrested his younger brother, when police sighted him at the station to make inquiries about his younger brother’s arrest; they (police) descended on him and detained him at the Utako police station.
It took the intervention of the NHRC to secure his bail. Police alleged that he was in possession of a pistol that fateful night. He neither made any statement nor was arraigned.
Of his personal items collected by the force, Handset, national identify card, the ID card was not returned. The DPO however expressed ignorance of the entire episode.
EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLINGS
1. Testifer: Alhaji Baba Kura Fugu an Arabic Teacher from Maiduguri testified to the extra judicial killing of his father, an old man with 27 children, a husband of four and grandfather of many who was killed by the Borno State Police Command on 31st July, 2009 in the aftermath of the 26th July, 2009 Boko Haram killings.
He said they escaped on 27th July, 2009 in the heat of the crisis for the Governor’s residence. There were still airs of insecurity, that warranted their movement to Gamboru wards to stay with their sister. On 30th, he met his father in the sister’s house, there the late Alhaji, told him he had information that police was on his manhunt. It was more reasonable to go with a lawyer, he suggested. To which the father informed Barrister Modu Tanjani. Thereafter, information came that Alhaji was at police headquarters Maiduguri. Police having successfully got Alhaji, denied the son from seeing the man in their custody. Alhaji Baba K. Fugu then sent another relation who succeeded. The relation saw the old man in chains and said the late Alhaji instructed them not to look for him but pray for him. By evening, there were speculations that Alhaji and four others had been killed by the police, their corpses were taken to Umoru Shehu ultra modern hospital Mortuary. When the family requested for the corpse, the police turned it down.
Before the killings by the police, the family house was on 29th July, 2009, demolished on the verbal orders of the state Governor. Property lost included four cars, six motorcycles, textile materials etc. however, a quantity surveyor valuated the losses.
State Government thereafter set up a committee on the Boko Haram mayhem. Its secretary personally came and appealed to the testifier to co-operate with the committee.
As a step towards getting justice, the testifier petitioned the NHRC (North East zone), the Nigerian Bar Association, Civil Liberties Organisation and one of the late father’s lawyers. They filed a suit in court and got favourable judgment for late Alhaji’s corpse to be exhumed and given to them for decent burial, N100m compensation, and not to subject the family to any undue intimidation, victimization, or discrimination. Yet, nothing was done to comply with and enforce the judgment of the court by the police and state government.
Panel’s observation and recommendation:
- There was extra judicial killing of the father in police custody in Maiduguri on 31/7/09.
- The action was a fallout of the Boko Haram crisis
- The corpse of the father and others were still with the police.
- The Inspector General of Police should carry out a comprehensive investigation. It was noted that the allegations of extra judicial killings during and after the Boko Haram crises were still very rife.
- Corpse of the deceased should be released to the family for decent burial.
- A public apology should be tendered by the police.
- Adequate compensation should be paid to the family if investigations indicts the police
- Police and Borno State Government should obey Court judgment and pay the N100m judgment debt.
- Attorney General and Minister of Justice should prevail on the police and Borno State Government to obey this court judgment.
2. MRS. FELICIA IBEZIM
Mrs. Ibezim who hails from Amuzu Ukwu Ibeku Umuahia narrated how the Mopol 55 killed his only male brother Ibezim and three others including a police orderly on 19th October, 2009.
The late brother and the three others had been sent on an errand to Aba by a Hotelier Mr. Onuegbu, the owner of the jeep they drove in.
The jeep was going for repairs. Along the way, police accosted the party to which the owner of the vehicle spoke to the police on phone. That did not change matters. Few hours later, the four were killed on the claim that they were armed robbers. Squadron Commander Mohammed Aliyu was said to have ordered the shooting.
On 20th October, 2009, the youths angered by the development, gathered at the community square for protest rally. There the Hotelier, who had gone into hiding based on information that the same killer police were planning to kill him too in order to cover the matter, surfaced to narrate how he sent them on the errand. The matter was reported and incidented by the police. Elijah Sunday was the investigating police officer (IPO). On 26th December, 2009, the deceased were buried. Abia State, C.P. Mr. Johnson Jonathan later came consoled and apologized to the family over the killing. Till date nothing else was done to bring to book the eleven police officers claimed to have been arraigned.
The Tribunal identified the following:
- There took place on 19th October, 2009, extra judicial killing of four persons including an only son of a family on the Umuahia – Aba Road.
- That Eleven police officer were arrested but were yet to be prosecuted.
- Other police officers mentioned were commissioner of police C.P. Jonathan Johnson, IPO (Abuja) Elijah Sunday, ASP Ogbonna (Zone 9) Squadron Commander Aliyu Mopol 55.
- The I.G.P. to thoroughly investigate the matter with a view to bringing the culprits to account.
- That SARS nationwide have gained embarrassing notoriety tainting the Human right image of the police locally and internationally. It should either be scrapped or comprehensively reformed to conform to modern state of policing or human right compliant policing.
- A public apology should be tendered by the police to the bereaved families.
- Adequate compensation should be paid to the families.
3. MR. MICHAEL PETER DAWANG
He was in the series of extra-judicial killings by Law Enforcement Agencies nay, the police. He testified to the killing of his younger brother late Christian peter Dawang – 19 years old.
The testifier from Mangu L.G.A. Plateau State said on the 7th day of November, 2008, around 7:00am, police using a red car No. AE 931 NBD came to their house and arrested his late brother over the radio he seized from the Hotelier Mr. Paul Adamu, who owed him five months salary. Police took him back to Mararaba police post where eyewitnesses said he was tortured and brutalized. The next day, the family went to the police post, but one officer Moses Baruwa told them that matter had been transferred to Mangu Division. At Mangu, they were informed that the boy had died and his corpse deposited at the Mangu Hospital. November 9th, 2008, 24 hours after, they met the divisional crime officer DCO and demanded the release of the corpse. The DCO reminded them of the difficulty in doing that given that the police post in Mararaba was razed due to circumstances not yet fully known. Unrelenting in their effort on 10th November, 2008, they petitioned the SSS and NHRC who saw, the corpse and carried out their investigations. Four days later, the corpse was buried I.P.O Marcus Madu interrogated them, finally they met the 2i/c) who told them that from the report he (2i/c) got, the police officers torture of the Youngman eventually led to his death.
The public Tribunal (Panel) identified the following issues.
1. Police torture led to victim’s death
2. He late Christian Dewang was arrested on 7th November, 2008, had his house searched and was taken away in a red car with Reg. No. AE 931 NBD, (Plateau).
- He died in police custody.
Consequently, the panel recommended as follows:
1. The Inspector General of Police IGP should investigate thoroughly and bring perpetrators to book.
The Litany of harvest of tears was not to end even with the recounting of the extra judicial killing of his brother’s son, twenty – six year old Emmanuel Pam on 2nd July, 2008. On that fateful date, two policemen came and bundled the late Youngman out of his room. They hand-cuffed his hands and chained his legs. In the ensuing scuffle, the mother, a widow, with the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, rushed out and demanded to know the offence. The police Haruna Dikko and Sgt. Joeph Paul said they would inform her later. After reporting to her duty post, she returned to the police station and still requested to see her son. The policemen she also identified in her house told her he was busy.
Later the testifier was informed that boys were shot and their corpses marked unidentified and dumped with Jos University Teaching Hospital. On the 4th July, 2008, Mr. John Manbag identified the late Emma’s corpse at JUTH. To further demonstrate the acidic content of their veins, police ordered JUTH to release all the corpses to Jos Metropolitan Agency for mass burial which took place unannounced.
In August, the family petitioned NHRC. Police authorities claimed, this leader Sgt. Joseph Paul who was brought to Headquarters Abuja for one year said they shot the boy when he attempted to escape.
The force further claimed they had an orderly room trial that acquitted the offender. The bereaved family protested the said acquittal which prompted the police to suggest a retrial. Nobody knows if that will ever take place.
To further stamp their invincibility and impunity, threat messages have been sent to the poor widow’s handset supposedly from police sources.
Having listened to the pathetic testimony, the panel noted the following:
- That Emmanuel Pam’s killing on 2nd July, 2008, was extra judicial in nature.
- The victim’s mother, a widow works for FRSC, Jos.
- The corpse was dumped by police at the JUTH.
- Police refusal to release the corpse despite repeated demands by the family rather preferred to give it mass-burial alongside unknown corpses.
- One police officer Sgt. Paul implicated, but his orderly room trial badly handled.
Accordingly, the panel recommended as follows:
- The Inspector General of Police IGP should carry out a comprehensive investigation (and prosecution).
- Police should apologize to the family.
- Adequate compensation should be paid to the family.
- The corpse should be exhumed and delivered to the family for decent burial.