On December 23 last year, Chima Ikwunado, an automobile mechanic based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, died in the custody of the Nigerian Police few days after he was apprehended by the police who whisked him away alongside four other colleagues after they reportedly failed to meet “bribe” demanded from them. Chima was allegedly killed by some policemen, after undergoing “severe torture in their custody”.
Victor Ogbonna, one of the victims arrested alongside the deceased, said “They tortured Chima, broke his legs and Chima died in pain. They (police) hung Chima in the air for two hours and went on patrol, only to return afterwards to lose him. By then, he merely fell down like a cocoyam, already dead,” “So, they took him inside their vehicle and drove off. Chima died on December 23, according to what the boys told me.”
The case of Chima is one out of the avalanche of incidents of torture and ill-treatment of suspects held in the custody of the police. Victims and witnesses have disclosed at several fora that the forms of torture and other ill-treatment committed by the police included the tying of arms and legs tightly behind the body, suspension by hands and legs from the ceiling or a pole, repeated and severe beatings with metal or wooden objects (including planks of wood, iron bars, and cable wire), resting of concrete blocks on the arms and back while suspended, spraying of tear gas on the face and eyes, rape of and other sexual violence against female detainees, use of pliers or electric shocks on the penis, shooting on the foot or leg, stoning, death threats, slapping and kicking with hands and boots and denial of food and water.
A 23-three year-old man who was arrested by the police in Enugu described his mal-treatment to Human Rights Watch thus: “They handcuffed me and tied me with my hands behind my knees, a wooden rod behind my knees, and hung me from hooks on the wall, like goal posts. Then, they started beating me. They got a broomstick hair [bristle] and inserted it into my penis until there was blood coming out. Then, they put tear gas powder in a cloth and tied it round my eyes. They said they were going to shoot me unless I admitted I was the robber. This went on for four hours.”
In another account, a 36-year-old trader who was detained at the Kano police headquarters told researchers: “Our arms were tied with handcuffs. One at a time we were hung by a chain from the ceiling fan hook. I was the first. They started beating me with a yam pounder, saying I should confess for the robbery. I didn’t know what they were talking about. I was beaten, beaten, beaten. They beat my knees, the soles of my feet, my back and my joints. This went on for 25 minutes. I was beaten too much. I shit and piss while I was hanging. Then, I became unconscious.”
One factor is clear, The Police disregard for due process of law, which fuels the abuse of power, is characteristic to all the cases. Amongst the main concerns are deliberate practice of not informing suspects of the reasons for their arrest, lack of legal representation, prolonged pre-trial detention and acceptance by Magistrates and Judges of confessions that were extracted under torture.
Impunity among men of the Nigerian Police is one of the biggest single obstacles to the reduction of torture and other serious abuses by the police in Nigeria. Deeply engrained societal attitudes that accept police torture and other abuses as legitimate tools to combat crime help sustain this impunity. For many Nigerians who have experienced decades of oppression and brutality by military rulers, the use of violence by the institutions of the state is often accepted, even seen as normal.
Even when they know the police action is wrong, indeed illegal, the victims seem utterly powerless to seek redress. The fact that in all but a handful of cases, there was no accountability for violations committed by the individual police officer, no doubt embolden the perpetrators and has perpetuated the culture of violence in the Nigerian Police Force. Also, victims of police torture who attempt to attain accountability face numerous obstacles.
Official channels for registering complaints, such as the Police Complaints Bureau and the National Human Rights Commission, are acutely under-resourced and lack political support. In addition, the failure to carry out legally required inquests and autopsies on suspects who died in custody further impedes accountability. In the unlikely event that a legal case is brought against an officer, obstruction or lack of co-operation from the police and connivance with the lower cadres of the judiciary ensure that prosecution is rare.
National efforts to reform the police have, to date, been largely symbolic and consistently failed to prioritise human rights issues, including torture. An ambitious new program, launched by the Inspector General of Police, which offered some hope that more comprehensive and meaningful reform is at last being considered has not yielded the desired result.
A review of the Police Act will certainly be a welcome opportunity to bring the laws governing the police into line with international standards, particularly the inclusion of a code of conduct that specifically prohibits the use of torture. However, whether the police leadership can rise to the challenge and contest the many vested interests opposing change – both from inside the police force and in the wider environment – squarely lies with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The international community, in particular the British and United States governments, both of whom have since 1999 invested millions of dollars into developing the Nigerian Police Force, must also take a stronger stance to pressure the Nigerian government to bring about an end to the torture of detainees, address impunity for police abuses and bring about genuine reforms.
Both governments have repeatedly assured human rights propagators that they are voicing concerns about human rights issues with the Nigerian authorities. However, this approach has proven to be largely ineffective as police abuses, including routine torture, persist.
Therefore, the British and the U.S. governments should at the very least condition continue the financial assistance, equipment and training they provide to the Nigerian police. Also, the British and U.S. governments should come forth to publicly denounce torture and killings by the Nigerian Police Force.
Catholic Bishops Vow To Work For Credible Polls In 2023
Bishops of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja have pledged to work with relevant stakeholders to ensure free, credible and transparent general elections in 2023.
The commitment is contained in a communiqué jointly signed by Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Abuja and Very Rev. Fr. Sam Tumba, after the 3rd General assembly of the Archdiocese.
In the communique issued on Saturday in Abuja, the bishops enjoined Parishes, families, Church societies and groups to dedicate special moments to pray for a hitch-free election.
“We call on Catholics and indeed all Nigerian citizens to be consciously and actively involved in the electoral processes at all levels.
“Voter registration, collection of Permanent Voters Card, casting votes on election days with a firm and clear conscience to elect credible leaders who will bring about the true dividends of democracy”, they said.
The bishops commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Electoral Act into law to enhance the sanctity of the electoral process.
“We task the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure political fairness and transparency, to consolidate the trust reposed in them by Nigerians.
“Parishes and Catholic institutions within our Archdiocese are encouraged to arrange and organize voter awareness programmes, seminars and workshops guided by the Justice, Development and Peace Commission, to better equip our people for greater political responsibility.
“We remain open and willing to collaborate with relevant government agencies, electoral bodies and security operatives to ensure peaceful and credible election processes in the coming year,” the communique added.
The bishops cautioned politicians not to regard the election as a ‘do or die’ affair, adding that they must also refrain from money politics, manipulative and divisive practices along ethnic, social and religious lines to win elections.
“Even though we decry the hard economic situations in the nation, we strongly discourage all Catholics and especially our youths from lending themselves as easy recruits for political thuggery and other criminal activities to enthrone selfish and incompetent aspirants into electoral offices.
“We discourage and condemn any form of vote buying or selling and other electoral malpractices during the elections,” the bishops said.
The bishops advised catholic politicians from all political parties within the Archdiocese to participate in Church activities, so as to be better known by the faithful.
They called on all people of goodwill to cooperate with security agencies to root out criminal elements within communities.
The bishops, however, urged security agents to remain professional in discharging their duties and resist any attempt to be used to intimidate the people by corrupt politicians.
The communique called on Catholics across the country to match work with prayer, for peaceful electioneering process.
They called for sustained prayers for the country, adding: “Nigerians should take courage and be of ardent hope, for the storms will soon be over.”
Take 2023 Elections Seriously, Wike Tasks Rivers People
The Rivers State Chief Executive, Chief Nyesom Wike, has urged Nigerians to take the upcoming 2023 General Election seriously by securing their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) and using it wisely and prayerfully.
Wike stated this during the Inter-Denominational Church Service in commemoration of the 62nd Independence Day Anniversary of Nigeria, at St. Paul’s Cathedral Church, Diobu in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the governor said he believes God would use the 2023 elections to grant the pleas of Nigerians for a rebirth of a new nation.
“Nigeria must rise again, it must fulfil its divine purpose for which God has put it together, Nigeria has a prophetic agenda, whether the devil likes it or not. We must have the confidence that our votes will count and that we will use our votes to bring in the leaders after the heart of God”, the governor said.
Wike said under his watch, the state government has been resolute and consistent in providing the dividends of democracy to the people living and doing business in the state.
“We have seen it, in the massive improvement in security.We have seen it in social and physical infrastructure.What will you say, when public tertiary institutions have been on strike for the past seven months, and some of the students are being killed, some are roaming about, some are going into crime, while others are abusing drugs and going mental, but in Rivers State, all the state institutions are functioning none-stop, and salaries are paid as at when due and lecturers are teaching the way they should”, Wike further stressed.
The state chief executive expressed gratitude to the Almighty God for the 62nd Independence anniversary of the country and for keeping the nation as one in spite of all the security and economic challenges, adding that “God in His infinite mercy has kept us together as a people, what seems impossible with men, is possible with God”.
In his sermon drawn from Matthew Chapter 7: 7-12, Bishop Diocese of Niger Delta North,St. Paul’s Cathedral Church, Diobu, Port Harcourt, Rt. Rev. Wisdom Ihunwo, said “if Nigeria must go forward, we must obey the golden rule”.
He said,”We must not give up on Nigeria; no matter the challenges, God would make the nation great again, but it behooves on us to pray and do the right things at all times”.
A schedule of activities released by the state government shows that on Friday, September 30, 2022, a Jumma’at Prayer would be held at the JIBWIS Directorate Headquarters, Central Mosque, 36 Bonny Street, Port Harcourt Township, at 1:00pm.
According to the programme, signed by the Permanent Secretary, Special Services Bureau, Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Sir George Nwaeke, the grand finale would hold on Saturday, October 1, 2022, with a parade ceremony/march-past at Sharks Football Stadium, Port Harcourt by 10:00am.
The statement said that the state Governor, Chief NyesomWike, would preside over the activities at the grand finale on Saturday.
Buhari Launches INFF In New York
President Muhammadu Buhari has restated the commitment of his administration to the achievement of inclusive, broad-based and sustainable development.
The President spoke while delivering his keynote address at strategic High Level Event held on the sidelines of the 77th session of United Nations General Assembly in New York to launch Nigeria’s Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) for Sustainable Development.
The President noted that Nigeria adopted the INFF as a tool to improve the financing of SDGs without increasing public debt and contingent liabilities to levels that will be detrimental to economic sustainability.
He commended the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals; and the United Nation Development Programme for working together to develop Nigeria’s INFF in a process which started in 2020.
“Today’s event marks the end of a long process which began in 2020, when the Steering Committee and the Core Working Group on Nigeria’s Integrated National Financing Framework were inaugurated.
“The Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) has been developed to map out a much-needed sustainable financing plan for Nigeria to deliver on our commitment to the SDGs and our National Development aspirations,” the President said.
He further noted that as part of its commitment to sustainable and inclusive development, his administration aligned its 2017-2020 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP); the 2020 Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP); the 2021 National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS); and the 2021-2025 National Development Plan (NDP) with the SDGs.
“It is in line with this commitment and with a focus on the National Development Plan (2021-2025) that, the Federal Government of Nigeria, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has adopted the INFF as a tool to improve SDGs financing without increasing public debt and contingent liabilities to levels that will be detrimental to economic sustainability.
“The INFF is backed by Nigeria’s Medium-Term Revenue Strategy and the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework. As Nigeria champions the INFF process, we hope to promote the strategic alignment of financial policies with sustainable development and provide the enabling conditions for domestic and international, public, and private financial actors to best respond to our national needs.
“I urge all Nigerians, the international community, and our development partners to recognize the importance of this integrated approach to financing development, as you continue to count on my leadership in its immediate implementation,” the President said.
Speaking earlier, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs,Princess AdejokeOrelope-Adefulire, described the launch of the INFF report as a significant milestone in the commitment and efforts to achieve the SDGs in Nigeria.
She noted that the INFF is in line with Nigeria’s strategic approach to the implementation of the SDGs working at the National and Sub-national levels.
“At the National level, we work closely with the Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to integrate the SDGs into their sectorial policies and plans. At the Sub-national level, we are working closely with the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to mainstream the SDGs into their medium and long-term development policies and plans”.
She noted that her office, with the support of UNDP, has supported 16 states to develop SDG-Based Development Plans as part of Nigeria’s Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) for the agenda.
The INFF report, she added, was also another feat recorded by the country in the bid to institutionalize the SDGs, noting Nigeria was the first country in the Global South to have successfully completed a country-led Independent Evaluation of SDG-3 on ‘quality health and well-being for all’ and SDG-4 on ‘qualitative and inclusive education and lifelong learning for all’.
The two reports, she said, were officially launched on the 25th of August, 2022.
The presidential adviser noted that on the 21st of December, 2021, Nigeria became the first African country to successfully realigned its National Statistical System with the requirements and indicators of the SDGs, hence the country will be now be able to track progress on the 230 Key Performance Indicators of the agenda on annual basis through the National Bureau of Statistics.
Orelope-Adefulire further noted that in 2019, Nigeria successfully domesticated the Integrated Sustainable Development Goals Simulation Model (iSDG Model) as a home-grown analytical tool for evidence-based SDGs policymaking and planning with the report launched on the margins of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly by the President.
“The Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) Report we are about to launch today is a product of series of efforts led by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs; and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“Nigeria is now among the INFF Pilot Countries that have made significant progress by completing the design process. Indeed, this is an expression of Nigeria’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
She expressed appreciation and profound gratitude to the President for accepting to launch the report as well as all the Institutional Members of the National Steering Committee and the Core Working Group on Nigeria’s INFF for the commitment demonstrated during the design phase.
“We look forward to similar commitment during the implementation phase,” Orelope –Adefulire said while affirming the commitment of her office to continue to drive the process of achieving the SDGs in Nigeria.
“I would like to conclude by re-affirming Nigeria’s commitment to the successful implementation of the SDGs. We look forward to working more closely with you all in this ‘Decade of Action’ for the Global Goals, so that no ‘One is left behind’.”
In his remark, Head/Sustainable Development, Minister Counsellor, Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the UN, Axel Maisonneuve, said EU had also support the mobilisation of capital for an inclusive and sustainable transition, which is at the heart of an INFF, in several ways.
“For instance, we know that whilst public finance of course has a key role to play, it will not be sufficient to bridge the SDG financing gap, and private finance needs to be mobilised as well.
“In the EU, we believe in fact that sustainable finance is critical to enable private financial flows being channelled towards sustainable investments.
“The EU’s Green Deal and the Global Gateway strategies are some of the key examples of the EU efforts in this direction. Indeed, sustainable finance is part and parcel of an INFF,’’ he said.
According to him, private finance is very much part of Nigeria’s Integrated National Financing Framework.
Maisonneuve said the INFF was designed to help the Nigerian government explore innovative financing options linking government with private sector and development partners to increase public revenue and private investments.
“Let me take this opportunity to praise Nigeria for the efforts undertaken toward the achievement of the 2030 agenda and the SDGs and for the key milestone that you have achieved.
“In September 2019, 16 countries committed to pioneer the development and implementation of INFFs, and Nigeria was among them.
“Now, Nigeria has successfully designed its INFF Strategy, and is offering a leading example for INFF progress toward a more systematic, holistic approach to achieve sustainable development objectives,’’ he said.
Goodwill messages were delivered by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed, and development partners.
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