#KnowYourRights – In this post, you will see what the Law talks about Police torture in Nigeria. Torture in police custody is very common in Nigeria. Items such as ring boilers are used to burn the private parts of suspects. Lighters are also used to burn the feet of suspects to make them confess. Other suspects almost drown in water, some die during this process and others are maimed for life.
Does the police have the right to torture suspects? What law governs the prohibition of torture in Nigeria?
The answer to the first question is an equivocal “NO”. Torture and ill treatment is among the most loathsome infringement of human rights.
The constitution of Nigeria does not support such acts that infringe the rights of its citizens. Chapter IV of the constitution deals only with the rights of Nigerians and what constitutes infringement of these rights. In section 35 of the constitution, provides that every citizen of Nigeria has the right to dignity of the human person.
Dignity, in this sense refers to proper treatment as a human and not an animal. It could include torture, physical and emotional abuse, keeping the suspect in a cell with no toilet facilities. The concept behind this is that, every person is innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.
A suspect has not been convicted and meting out such treatment may cause loss of life or permanent injury. The law believes that it is better to let a hundred criminal go than to wrongfully incarcerate one innocent man.
In addition, the evidence Act provides that evidence must be gathered without torture, threats, or even promises.
Any confessional statement that will be tendered in evidence must be clear and precise and devoid of torture. Where there are doubts as to whether the confessional statements are given voluntarily, the court will order any of the following
• A Trial within trial: this is ordered when the accused person says that the confessional statement he gave was gotten by threats, torture or promise.
It involves starting a mini trial inside the main trial where evidence will be adduced to show that the evidence was gotten properly and according to the laid down procedure.
If it is found that the evidence was obtained by threats or torture, the evidence will be discarded.
• Reducing the weight attached to the evidence: this is done when the accused person has denied ever making the statement or retracts it.
The court will still admit this confessional statement in evidence but, will be careful of the weight to attach to it. This is advised to avoid wrongly convicting an innocent person as it is commonly known that the police sometimes arrest innocent people and make them confess to crimes they did not commit.
Also, by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nobody should be subjected to torment or too cold blooded, cruel or inhumane treatment or discipline.
Torture was one of the first issues managed by the United Nations in its advancement of human rights measures.
Torture, for the most part, covers any demonstration which causes serious torment or pain, is purposefully incurred on a man or is done to acquire data, admission or discipline for a demonstration.
The expression “torture” envelops an assortment of strategies including, extreme beatings, electric stun, sexual manhandle and assault, delayed isolation, hard work, close suffocating, close suffocation, mutilation, and hanging for delayed periods.
Notwithstanding the sorts of serious agony and pain specified above, torture could likewise incorporate being subjected to brilliant lights or blindfolding; being subjected to consistent tumultuous commotion; being denied of rest, nourishment or beverage; being subjected to steady standing or rough shaking.
The first Article of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment states that…
“torture” implies any demonstration by which extreme agony or pain, whether physical or mental, is purposefully incurred on a man for such purposes as acquiring from him or a third individual data or an admission, rebuffing him for a demonstration he or a third individual has submitted or is associated with having conferred, or threatening or pressuring him or a third individual, or for any reason taking into account segregation of any sort, when such torment or enduring is delivered by or at the impelling of or with the assent or passive consent of an open official or other individual acting in an official limit. It does exclude torment or experiencing emerging just, inborn in or coincidental to legitimate assents.
The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was embraced by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1984 and went into power on 26 June 1987.
This United Nations Convention was intended to defend the human rights of subjects by shielding them from torment and it set up the UN Committee Against Torture, which screens execution of the Convention in every State.
This body works towards the aversion and the annihilation of all types of torture and sick treatment, numerous global and local instruments have put set up important standards and principles on human rights, the organization of equity and the behavior of outfitted clashes.
All members of the treaty are to abide by it or face sanctions from the United Nations. Over 140 countries have signed this treaty, 42 countries still have not signed till this day.
Nigeria is a party to this treaty and it was signed in 1988, it is just unfortunate that in the last 29 years since this treaty was signed, the Nigeria police has continued the barbaric method and infringed on thousands of rights and killed citizens also.
A man lost his eyesight while in prison custody due to torture, another one died in cell because the police shot him to make him confess. The stories go on and on and every Nigerian has one bad experience with the police.
The reason why it has continued in my opinion is the lack of knowledge of our fundamental human rights. We should ensure that we get ourselves educated on our rights so that we can slowly but surely remove barbaric methods used by the police.