- 4800 youths arbitrarily arrested in the South East between Oct 2020 to June 2022
- Detainees labeled IPOB/ESN or unknown gunmen
- Accused security forces of extorting huge amounts of money from families of detainees
A new report by the Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has revealed how security forces engage in human rights abuses including extrajudicial execution and torture and how the Nigerian authorities shield perpetrators and reward them with promotions.
Violence broke out in the southeastern states in 2020 with over 200 security personnel, killed. Nigerian media also reported over 20 public buildings including, police stations, prisons and public buildings were destroyed by rampaging gunmen.
The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), which advocates the secession of Nigeria’s predominantly Igbo-populated southeast, and its paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network ESN, were accused of masterminding the violence, which IPOB denied.
The report titled: “Nigeria Police And Other Security Forces Have Fully Adopted Jungle Justice, Ethnic Profiling And Rewarding Perpetrators Of Conduct Atrocities With Promotions And Postings As As Operational Codes”
Intersociety said it relied on its field research that revealed top hierarchies of the Nigeria Police Force, Military, Secret Police, and other security agencies have adopted jungle justice, ethnic and religious profiling, and improper reward system to address the insecurity in southeast Nigeria.
The group said the report is based on its research in the “Eastern Nigeria States of Anambra, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Enugu and Rivers, where massive burning or destruction of civilian dwelling houses and other lawful properties have become a commonplace”
The human rights group said its finding include cases of abductions, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and other unlawful killings; torture, arbitrary arrest, and detention, and that 4800 people have been arrested or abducted by security forces from Oct 2020 to June 2022 alone.
Widespread Abduction and Extortion of detained Suspects
Intersociety says its finding shows that the police and the Secret Police often fail to put detainees on a fair and credible trial but instead resorted to subjecting them to torture, prolonged detention, and extra-judicial execution.
Detainees who are deliberately labeled “IPOB/ESN member/Unknown Gunman” while their families are forced to pay huge amounts before granting them bail while detention cells in some centers are so congested that the security officials resorted to filling the adjoining kiosks and shanties with detainees.
Intersociety cited the case of four former detained citizens (Ifeanyi Ezennakwe, Tochukwu Undemba, Emmanuel Okeke, and Ifeanyi Ifere) held at Onitsha Area Command for six weeks who revealed how they saw three of their co-detainees die out of torture in their presence and two others killed outside their cells.
Most of the arrested citizens presently held incommunicado without trial in different detention centers are young men who were arrested while returning from funeral ceremonies, church vigils, or travelers, traders, and artisans arrested and labeled “ESN/IPOB/Unknown Gunmen”.
Rewarding Perpetrators Of Human Rights Abuses
According to Intersociety, the Nigerian Government had not only failed to fish out senior security officers accused of perpetrating abuses since 2015 but in some cases had rewarded them with promotions and “juicy” postings
In some cases, the government has further encouraged them to change their original names in the military and police records to avoid being tracked locally and internationally by rights and justice groups to account for atrocities committed in service. Citing the case of two senior military officers who were accused of being responsible for the massacre of hundreds of defenseless street protesters in Anambra State in 2015 and 2016
Neither the military nor police authorities have responded to the report but Nigerian police authorities have often denied the accusation of human rights abuses. Last month the Nigerian army accused INTERSOCIETY of being the propaganda arm of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB).
In a released signed by Onyema Nwachukwu, Brigadier General
Director Army Public Relations and dated 3 September 2022, the army said that “ the NA wishes to dismiss these concoctions and evil propaganda peddled and served to unsuspecting members of the public by INTERSOCIETY, covertly sponsored by IPOB/ESN, with the singular purpose of destabilizing our dear nation”.