Since the return to democracy in 1999, the Nigerian state is witnessing an upsurge in human rights violations which ranges from detention without trial, police brutality, forceful evictions, torture, extra-judicial killing, summary execution, harassment, and intimidation.
Operations of the security forces remained characterized by human rights violations in virtually all the geo-political zones of the country with torture as a main method of eliciting confessional statements from the accused by security agencies. The 2010 Open Society Justice Initiative and the Network of Police Reform report described Nigeria police stations as “torture chambers”, while Amnesty International 2015 report indicted Nigerian government of using torture in its criminal justice system.
Huge and unprecedented human rights violations manifest strongly in the state counter-insurgency strategy. The common trends indicate that suspects are routinely picked by the security personnel on different count charges, tortured, humiliated and punished unjustly. Those who are unlucky are kept in detention without trial for prolonged period of time while some are summarily executed, Amnesty International Report on Torture has shown.
For instance, in the Northeast zone of Nigeria that is affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, victims continue to recount their experiences in the hands of the security agents. In the Giwa Barrack, popularly referred to as Guantanamo, according to one of the detainees, “detainees were crammed into drums and inflamed from beneath. “Many of us did not survive it. That is why you can see every part of my body is burnt,” he said. (Amnesty International Report 2015).
The 2013 Human Rights Watch Report titled “Leave Everything to God” Accountability for Inter-Communal Violence in Plateau and Kaduna States, Nigeria, indicted the Nigerian security personnel on the excessive use of torture and summary execution of the civilians.
As the state counter-insurgency strategy continues to be characterized by human rights abuse, it becomes vital for the state and non-state actors to address human right abuse with particular emphasis to adherence to the rules of engagement. We recognized that improving human rights compliance in countering violent extremism is key to the development of Nigeria in the light of the humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram, Herders conflict in the north east, north-central, and some part of Nigeria that have witnessed pockets of violence.
It is against this background that Open Society Foundation (OSF) supports CLEEN Foundation to implement project focusing on Improving Human Rights Compliance in Countering Violence Extremism in Nigeria. The aim is to address rights violations by state counter insurgency strategy by building the capacity of police oversight agencies for accountability and respect to human rights.
As part of the project implementation, CLEEN organized a two-day capacity building for Police oversight agencies in Nigeria on the 30th -31st of May, 2018 at Abuja.
The event had 49 participants selected across security agents, government agencies, NGOs, media and partners in attendance Some participants at the event argued that, the way the security personnel conduct themselves, it is becoming impossible for them to uphold human rights.
CLEEN in pursuit of this mandate is working together with key actors to develop working document for police oversight agencies. The document seeks to promote inter-agency co-operation among the police oversight agencies.
At the event, research on the human rights compliance of counter terrorism policies in Nigeria was validated and presented. At the validation, the survey tool developed by CLEEN and partners for measuring the impact of Counter Terrorism policies on Human Rights in Nigeria; particularly in Borno and Plateau States was reviewed.
Audu Liberty Oseni and Ruth Manzah, CLEEN Foundation