By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it would move against any security agency in the country that is found complicit in the torture of suspects in custody.
The Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata, said the government would henceforth, pay attention to the enforcement of International conventions Nigeria entered against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Apata, who is currently in charge of the Justice Ministry, made the declaration in a statement he presented at a ceremony that was held to commemorate the 2019 United Nations Day in support of victims of torture.
He noted that Nigeria had on June 28, 2001, ratified the convention against torture it signed since June 28, 1988.
“In order to ensure that this Declaration of United Nations Convention Against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment does not merely remain as a declaration without any coercive powers and indeed in order that this lofty idea is implemented by nation States or state parties, the United Nations went a step further by the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
“This Convention is an important step in the process of globalizing human rights and acknowledging the torture, inhuman and degrading treatment because it is not permitted even in times of war.
‘The right to freedom from torture is non-negotiable. The application of torture to extract confession from suspects or as a way of punishment amounts to a by-pass of the judicial process by not subjecting the suspect to the time-honoured practice of trial of suspects in the regular courts.
“Section 34 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended prohibits the infliction of torture.
“Additionally, Articles 5 & 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the United Nation Convention on Torture, inhuman and degrading treatment to which Nigeria is a signatory, all prohibit the use of Torture.
“There is no doubting the fact that millions of persons, families and groups suffer from torture throughout the world.
“It is one of the most cruel human rights violations which cause severe physical pain and psychological trauma to victims.
“Torture also dehumanizes and inflicts emotional scars which many victims take to their graves.
“Violation of human rights is unacceptable”, he added.
Smilarly, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Mr. Chino Obiagwu, SAN, said there was need for FG to engage law enforcement and security agencies to move away from torture as a means of investigation.
“We cannot overemphasize the need for engagement of law enforcement and security agencies to move away from torture as a means of investigation to forensic method of investigation in line with international standards and best practices.
“To this end, we must continue to create awareness on the provisions of the Act and scale up the discussion on torture, while still focusing on community mobilization against torture, which has the objective of curbing the systemic use of torture in policing by law enforcement and security agents.
“We must also stress that as much as the Federal government has a mandatory duty under section 1 of the Act to ensure that the rights of all persons are respected at all times regardless of whether they are being investigated or have been convicted for crimes, it is pertinent that CSOs and the media become more involved towards achieving the aims of the Act”, LEDAP added.