- International rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has revealed a shocking level of unlawful police killings in Nigeria in its latest report released today. According to the report, the Nigerian police are responsible for hundreds of unlawful killings every year in the West Africa state.
Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme, Erwin van der Borght said Nigerian Police do not only kill people by shooting them, but also through severe torture while they are still in detention.
“The majority of the cases go un-investigated and the police officers responsible go unpunished. The families of the victims usually get no justice or redress. Most never even find out what happened to their loved ones,” he said.
It said that some police officers see the killings of armed robbers in detention as acceptable practice.
According to the Organisation, in June 2009, the organization visited the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) detention centre in Abuja, which is located in a disused abattoir outside the city, it found out that there were 15 people in the facility. It further said it encountered chains that are still hanging from the ceiling, at least 30 empty bullet cases scattered on the ground.
Amnesty International has claimed to have received unofficial information that many armed robbers are taken there and shot.
“Amnesty International said that one of the main problems is ‘Nigeria Police Force Order 237’ under which police officers are allowed to shoot suspects and detainees who attempt to escape or avoid arrest – whether or not they pose a threat to life,” the organisation statement said.
The organisation urged the Nigerian government to repeal Force Order 237 and publicly announce that the use of lethal force is only allowed when strictly unavoidable to protect life. “This simple step could make a big difference to the number of unlawful police killings we are seeing in Nigeria,” the statement said.
Over the past four years, according to the Organisation, the Nigerian government has set up two committees to review the Nigeria Police Force and present recommendations for reform. There recommendations have never been implemented.
Policing in Nigeria is dangerous work. On average, around 110 police officers are killed in shoot-outs with criminals every year according to the report.
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