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Boko Haram: FG talks tough, vows to criminalise torture, extra-judicial killings

.…Says its rampancy is worrying

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
The Federal Government has  said that arrangements were in the pipeline to criminalise torture and extra-judicial executions in the country.

The Federation Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Prince Adetokunboh Kayode (SAN) made the disclosure Tuesday in his office while meeting with the members of the National Committee on Torture.

He declared  that the government was scandalized by the Aljazeera documentary on extra-judicial killings in the country.

He however vowed that the allegation implied in the documentary would be investigated with culprits brought to book.

Tokunboh (SAN) who said that his tenure would ensure the criminalization of torture and extra-judicial killings also noted yesterday that there was need for an urgent and holistic review of the nation’s criminal justice system.

Adetokunbo said the government was bothered about the impression that the heinous crimes go largely uninvestigated and unpunished as reflected in the documentary aired by Aljazeera, a foreign cable television on the Boko Haram unrest and Amnesty International’s report alleging extra judicial killings by the Nigerian Police.

This impression, he said “undermines our image as a nation of laws that is committed to the human rights provisions in our constitution as well as our international human rights obligations.

“A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and fundamental freedoms and this is why we cannot tolerate impunity disguised under the cloak of security or any other guise”.

“It is my strong belief that the Federal Government of Nigeria has a solemn duty to criminalize torture, extra judicial executions punishable by sanctions commensurate with the gravity of the practice.

“This is an extraordinarily important responsibility of the office of the Attorney – General and Minister of Justice, and it is one that I will carry out assertively irrespective of any political concern.

“These allegations of extrajudicial killings by our police force have reached a stage where decisive response is required.”

The A-GF pointed out that Sections 33, 34(1a), 35 and 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution prohibit extra judicial executions, other unlawful killings and torture.

“Nigeria is a nation of laws. The Federal Ministry of Justice during my tenure will always act in accordance with those laws and with an unshakeable commitment to promote and protect fundamental freedoms and enhance access to justice.”

“To demonstrate his commitment to the cause, the minister will be hosting a meeting with the Inspector General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo and other top hierarchy of the police to find a lasting solution to the problem.

He has also asked the NCT to evolve a policy to stem the tide in line with several international and regional conventions ratified by Nigeria.

“I am directing the National Committee on Torture to within one week come up with a National Policy against Torture that I hope to present to the Federal Executive Council for adoption. Further, the National Committee on Torture should as a matter of urgency put   administrative measures in place to investigate the Aljazeera documentary on extra judicial killings by the Nigerians Police Force as well the reports of local and international human rights organizations. I expect to receive monthly reports on their findings.”

On the way forward, Adetokunbo said he was “convinced that ending extra-judicial executions and other unlawful killings required both a change in culture and impunity and legal reform. Therefore I will host a high level meeting with key ministries, justice institutions and relevant committees in the National Assembly. The purpose of this meeting is to achieve a coordinated and holistic agenda with a view to reversing this trend”.


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