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Amnesty urges Nigeria to stop torture by security forces

In a statement marking International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Amnesty said it continued to receive regular reports of torture and other human rights abuses in military and police custody.

FILE: A Nigerian army vehicle patrols in the town of Banki in northeastern Nigeria on 26 April 2017. Picture: AFP

LONDON – Amnesty International on Wednesday said torture of civilians and suspects by Nigerian security forces have persisted despite new legislation to curb such abuses.

In a statement marking International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Amnesty said it continued to receive regular reports of torture and other human rights abuses in military and police custody.

"Moreover, victims are still being denied justice, with the Nigerian judicial system failing to prevent or punish torture, perpetuating a culture of impunity," it said.

The director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said the use of torture was "still widespread" despite the enactment by the Nigerian parliament of the Anti-Torture Act in December 2017.

A presidential panel was also set up by President Muhammadu Buhari following mass outrage and protests calling for reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) - widely accused in Nigeria of human rights abuses while enjoying impunity.

Several rights bodies and Amnesty had accused police and SARS of torture and extra-judicial executions of suspects, prompting the police to rebrand the unit in August last year.

Yet accusations against the new unit and other security forces have continued.

"Our research also shows that despite an existing law against the use of torture, no police officer has been charged under the act", Ojigho said, adding that "Order 237", a security directive allowing police to shoot at fleeing subjects, had not been changed.

It allowed for a "lethal use of force that sometimes leads to extrajudicial killings", she added.

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