24.04.2024 Featured REPORT: Nigerian Gov’t Contributed Significantly to Human Rights Abuses in 2023

Published 24th Apr, 2024

By Opeyemi Lawal

A report has shown that the Nigerian government, through its use of torture and extreme punitive measures, contributed to the rise of human rights abuses in 2023.

The United States Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2023, published on Monday, stated that there were no significant changes in the human rights situation in Nigeria as extrajudicial killings, violence against journalists, civilian deaths and other vices increased in the past year.

The report stated that while the Nigerian law prohibited torture, it was mostly a tool used by government officials, particularly the military and the Department of State Services (DSS).

“The law mostly prohibited such practices, but there were credible reports government officials employed them. Impunity for torture was a significant problem in the security forces, especially in the police, military and the DSS,” the report stated.

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“The government regularly investigated security force members and held them accountable for crimes committed on duty, but the results were not always made public.”

The report further stated that one of the people arbitrarily arrested by the Nigerian government was Godwin Emefiele, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The DSS had arrested Emefiele on June 10 following his suspension by President Bola Tinubu; however, as soon as he was granted bail by a Federal High Court in Lagos, the DSS and the Nigerian Correctional Service officials broke out into a fight over who should take custody of him.

The report explained that these human rights abuses included verifiable reports of unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

“Significant human rights issues included credible reports of arbitrary and unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings; torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious abuses in a conflict, including reportedly unlawful or widespread civilian deaths or harm, enforced disappearances, abductions, torture and physical abuses,” the report stated.

“Serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, including violence or threats of violence against journalists and enforcement of criminal libel laws to limit expression; serious government corruption; extensive gender-based violence, including domestic or intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child, early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, and other forms of such violence; enforcement of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and the existence of any of the worst forms of child labour.

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The report further stated that while authorities were set up to investigate the deaths of victims killed in the 2020 #EndSARS nationwide protests, no one has been held accountable:

“Although the National Economic Council directed states to establish judicial panels following the 2020 #EndSARS nationwide protests, authorities had not yet held actors accountable.

“In July, a leaked Lagos State memo dated July 19 indicated the state government approved an expenditure of 61.3 million naira ($97,460) for the “mass burial” of 103 victims from the 2020 #EndSARS protests who remained in morgues, which raised questions regarding the extent of the abuses that took place during those protests.”

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Published 24th Apr, 2024

By Opeyemi Lawal


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