The Nigeria Police Force has been indicted by Amnesty International for operating a system in which innocent citizens are arrested and tortured to extract bribes.
Amnesty International published a report on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 in which it identified the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a special unit set up to combat violent crimes, as a notorious human rights abuser.
The report says that SARS officers routinely torture detainees with the view of extractive confessions which they use to force the payment of bribes for the detainees’ release. The unit is also accused of stealing from detainees and their families.
“A police unit created to protect the people has instead become a danger to society, torturing its victims with complete impunity while fomenting a toxic climate of fear and corruption,” said Damian Ugwu, a Nigerian researcher for the London-based human rights organization.
Donald Awunah, Nigerian police spokesperson did not respond to requests for comments.
Amnesty said it had received reports from lawyers, human rights activists and journalists and collected testimonies from victims to uncover “a pattern of ruthless human rights violations.”
Also, when the organisation questioned authorities about why no officers have been prosecuted for the human rights abuses, the Nigerian police denied that any torture had taken place.
The report says many officers bribe police chiefs to get onto the special squad where “torture is a lucrative business” and that “the police chiefs in charge are themselves entwined in the corruption.”
“The U.S. State Department’s report on human rights in Nigeria notes that an anti-torture bill passed by the legislature still awaits the signature of President Muhammadu Buhari,” AP’s report says.
“It says reports indicate that “security service personnel regularly tortured, beat, and abused demonstrators, criminal suspects, militants, detainees and convicted prisoners. Police repeatedly mistreated civilians to extort money” and confessions later used to convict suspects.”