The violation of Human rights and abuse of power by security officials in Nigeria has raised a lot of discussions and debates. This can be said to be one of the major defects of the Police Force as the unit expected to protect and be a friend to the citizens now turns out to be a contradiction.
Police brutality means the use of excessive physical force or verbal assault during police procedures and interrogations. It is the use of torture as an interrogative or apprehension mechanisms by the Police force.
The Violation of Human Rights by Police Unit
Below are the types of human rights violated by the police force in the course of their duty:
1. Right to Life
In Nigeria, the right to life of the citizens have been trampled upon by the police. There are numerous cases where citizens have been extra judicially killed which is mostly caused as a result of mistaken identities, stray bullets and unprovoked killings. This can be seen with how the security officials handled the recent endsars protest. The innocent youths came out to peacefully stand up for their rights and in return, they were compensated with killings, extortion, torture and bullets by those they call friends. This therefore bring to naught the popular cliché “Police is your Friend”.
2. Right to Dignity of human person:
The Nigerian Police Force have also been known for inflicting severe pain and injuries on accused persons for the purposes of obtaining information and confession. This is strictly inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution. By virtue of S34 of the 1999 Constitution, it provides that:
” Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment; no person shall he held in slavery or servitude; and no person shall be required to perform forced of compulsory labour”.
In a study embarked on by the Nigerian Human Rights Commission and the Nigerian NGO, Centre for Law Enforcement Education (CLEEN) in 2000, over 77% of inmates in Nigerian prisons are said to have been beaten by police, threatened with weapons and tortured in police cells. This shows lack of unprofessionalism and incompetence on the part of the police.
3. Right to Personal Liberty:
The police officials have unconstitutionally and intentionally held on to accused persons by depriving them of freedom. There are numerous cases in Nigeria where an arrested person is forced to talk without the opportunity to consult a legal practitioner. In the same line, some have even been arrested without knowing the facts and grounds for their arrest or detention.
4. Freedom of Expression:
Freedom of expression is now more like an irony in Nigeria. Citizens air out their opinions and views with fear of being arrested, mishandled or tortured by police officers. The Constitution has provided right to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in which a protest is not excluded. But recently, where the police officers were supposed to be facilitating and maintaining the peaceful endsars protest, they went further to escalate the tension among the citizens by using firearms to disperse protesters.
Ways to putting an end to Police Brutality and Violence in Nigeria
1. The Nigerian Law enforcement officials should be chosen and selected by a thorough and adequate screening mechanisms before allowed to resume position,.
2. More than enough training should be conducted during recruitment stages and throughout their stay in office. They should be trained on the proper of using ammunition and ways on how to handle situations, crisis or surges.
3. Awareness and education
4. It has been posited that bribery and corruption in the police force is largely due to poor welfare package. Hunger and poverty can at times to lead them being frustrated and exploiting innocent citizens. The law enforcement officials should be adequately remunerated and compensated for job well done.
5. Strict adherence by law enforcement officials to laws put in place for the protection of human rights where there is breach, necessary punishments be awarded to the erring officer.
Overall, the barbaric act of maltreatment and torture by the police force affects everyone in the country most especially the poor. Thus, necessary mechanisms must be carried out by the Federal government to ensure that these acts are curbed to the barest minimum and officials should be properly held accountable o any occurrence of violation of human rights.