We, the members of the Coalition of Concerned Civil Society Organisations in Rivers State in collaboration with our partners, and Rivers Civil Society Organisations (RIVCSO) are profoundly worried about the perennial cases of Police brutality in Nigeria, particularly the gruesome murder of Chima Ikwunado, Chibuike Daniel Ikeagwuchi aka Sleek, W/Sgt Lovender Elekwachi, Gospel Gbaraka and the Keke driver in Rukpokwu town, including the vicious torture of Victor Ogbonna, Osaze Friday, Ifeanyi Osuji, and Ifeanyi Onyekwere in Rivers State.
The Coalition of Concerned Civil Society Organisations in Rivers State is also perturbed by the unconscionable manner in which the relevant government institutions are handling such important matters with political considerations.
Pertinently, recall that on the 23rd of December, 2019, Chima Ikwunado was acknowledged dead at the Mile One police station and the other 4 suspects arrested with him confirmed that he was tortured to death and grievous bodily wounds on their bodies also corroborate the assertion that they were also tortured but narrowly escaped death.
Consequently, as a result of civil society engagements, media advocacy and the escalation of this inhumanity to man, public pressure was brought to bear on the Nigeria Police and the erring officers were investigated and disciplined though with a slap on the wrist. Unfortunately, only 4 of the 6 indicted officers are facing prosecution, whilst the Commander of the E-crack Unit was redeployed and promoted, the investigating Police Offer (IPO) was not charged and has never been charged in any court of competent jurisdiction.
The community of organised civil society actors, enlightened legal and media advocates are aware that the Anti-Torture Act passed in 2017 as a law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, prohibits torture, penalizes torture with a term of 25 years in imprisonment and section 7(4) of the said Act stipulates that
The immediate Commanding Officer of the Unit concerned of the security or law enforcement agencies is held liable as an accessory to the crime for any act of omission or negligence on his part that may have led to the commission of torture by his subordinates.Anti-Torture Act, 2017
Hence this provision creates and places strict liability on the commanding officer.
Our Coalition of Concerned Civil Society Organisations in Rivers State is at a loss as to why the provisions of the law (passed by the respected National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and assented to by the Honourable President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammad Buhari, since 2017 is being ignored, neglected, circumvented and jettisoned with utter impunity and in total disregard for rule of law and other democratic principles.
Furthermore, Article 12 of the Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment 1987 stipulates that:
Each state party shall ensure that it’s competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable grounds to believe that an act of torture has been committedConvention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment 1987, article 12
Article 14 of the same convention, which Nigeria is a signatory to, stipulates that:
Each State party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redressConvention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment 1987, article 14
The position of our Coalition is that there is inequality in the administration of justice in Nigeria and that redress/justice is incomplete if all suspects involved in the torture are not prosecuted.
Again, our coalition asserts that the Nigeria Police, the Attorney General of Rivers State and the prosecution team have done a great disservice to humanity by turning a blind eye to atrocities committed, and the whole truth by focusing on the 4 suspects out of the 6 persons involved in the torture as though superior police officers are above the law.
As such, our coalition hereby call on the Attorney General of Rivers State, the Nigeria police and the prosecution team to act swiftly in revisiting the case file and section. 7 (4) of the Anti-Torture Act 2017 in order to determine the right actions to take, to prosecute SP Benson Abisoye and the investigating Police Officers, to ensure respect for the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to win the trust of the people who are watching keenly to see a composite justice for Chima Ikwunado and the entire humanity affected by this heinous, insensitive and immoral acts of the erring police officers.
God bless our Law Enforcement Agents
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Amaechi Kelechi Justin
On behalf of: The Coalition of Concerned Civil Society Organisations in Rivers State.