Excessive Torture And Police Brutality in Nigeria

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     Amnesty international recently released a report that sharply criticized the Nigerian Government of doing very little about the rising cases of torture by security operatives in the country. And as usual, I took a special interest in this issue. My ardent blog readers already know me to speak up against injustice, discrimination and any form of human rights violation. Call me a human rights activist, if you will.
      For my blog readers who might not know, I’m Nigerian and I live in Nigeria; so, I can authoritatively state the situation of things to an acceptable degree of accuracy. Torture has become an integral part of policing in Nigeria. Policemen, on a daily basis use several torture methods which include merciless beating, illegal detention, starvation, intense brutality and rape. The main objective of these torture in Nigeria is to obtain forced confession and this is a ridiculously irresponsible method by which the police ‘solves’ cases quickly. These victims, often times innocent go through unspeakable horror and are forced to make forced confessions which is eventually used as evidence against then in the courts. Most times, they are sent to jail based on these concessions they were forced to make under duress. Sometimes, the confession is even prepared by the police and they are tortured and forced to sign it.
      The  Nigerian Police force and many other security agencies including the military are reputed for their flagrant abuse of citizens human rights. Mistreatment of Nigerians by the police and security operatives is a very common occurrences. Personally, I have witnessed countless incidences.
Often times, a person is accused of an offence, perhaps, stealing or being a witch or being homosexual and is publicly being lynched or beaten; when the police is called, they do nothing or even encourage the crowd to go on. An example is the Aluu 4: a popular story of four university students who were accused stealing and were beaten and burnt alive while the police stood by and did nothing! This shows that the Police condones human rights violation and worse still, are even guilty of it.
      Extrajudicial killings by security operatives without any form of accountability is also commonly seen in Nigeria. Also, illegal arrest and detention is very rampant. These victims are usually tortured, starved and kept under very inhumane conditions. Some people are of the opinion that the origin of police brutality in Nigeria is from the colonial days when this was a key method used by colonial masters in enforcing authority and loyalty. This may well be true. However, the rise in the use of various forms of torture in Nigeria has sharply increased mainly due to the terrorist activities of Boko Haram in the Northern parts of the country.  Since 2009, between 5,000 and 10,000 people have been detained as suspects in the crackdown on the militant Islamist group, which is designated as a terror organization by the United States. Many people suspected of terrorist activities are arrested and mercilessly tortured until they ‘confess’. This way, innocent often suffer for something they know nothing about.
      Read some heart breaking stories of torture below (by Amnesty International):
       A torture survivor, Abosede, aged 24, told Amnesty International how sickening police abuse left her with a permanent injury:
“A policewoman took me to a small room, told me to remove everything I was wearing. She spread my legs wide and fired tear gas into my vagina. I was asked to confess that I was an armed robber… I was bleeding… up till now I still feel pain in my womb.”
     Nigeria’s military is committing similar human rights violations, detaining thousands as they search for Boko Haram members.
Mahmood, a 15 year old boy from Yobe state, was arrested by soldiers with around 50 other people, mainly boys between 13 and 19 years old. He told Amnesty International that the military held him for three weeks, beat him repeatedly with their gun butts, batons and machetes, poured melting plastic on his back, made him walk and roll over broken bottles and forced him to watch other detainees being extra-judicially executed. He was eventually released in April 2013.
       These stories are awfully pathetic and brought tears to my eyes. This makes me ask the most important question, “What must be done to stop this evil called torture in Nigeria?”
       First and most importantly, the Nigerian Parliament must criminalize torture, with well defined strict punishments for offenders.
There must be accountability. The Police and all other security operatives owes that to the people! There can’t just be cases of extra judicial killings and torture and no one explains anything or follows it up. The law must provide justice. Policemen and security operatives accused of torture and brutality must be tried and be adequately punished if found guilty. The Government must stand up and ensure that the human rights of the citizens are protected. Law enforcement agencies are to serve the people and not to victimize and oppress them!
       Lastly, I must also note that torture and police brutality is not exclusive to NIGERIA alone. So many other countries are guilty of this: Torture with impunity. North Korea has a horrible record of torture and human rights violations. Even the United States has serious issues about police partiality based on race.

  

US leads the fight against Ebola in West Africa

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  “The situation is very serious but if we act now, we will have the opportunity to save countless lives.” This was the most important sentence to me, from President Obama’s speech today on Ebola in Africa.
     I find it very welcome that the US has finally taken a giant step in assisting to combat the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, particularly Liberia. This unprecedented outbreak in West Africa this year has claimed the lives of more than two and a half thousand people, affecting Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone most adversely. Even though many, including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta feel that the US and international community wasted a lot of time before intervening, I think the intervention is still immensely appreciated, as these West African countries are finding it terribly difficult to cope or contain this virus on their own.
      The international community has hailed this crucial move by the United States which represents the largest foreign assistance given to fight Ebola. The United States will send 3,000 military personnel to West Africa and will assist in mass training of health care workers to deal with the epidemic surge, and will construct 17 health facilities to treat Ebola patients. All this is included in a $500M budget which was announced by President Obama today.
     I’m glad that the United States saw the need to SAVE LIVES. Their supportive move is really appreciated by many, including me. I also have to acknowledge the awesome international medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) which is doing an amazing work and has been at the fore front of the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

The International Coalition against ISIS

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      I have written severally about the ISIS, now known as IS (Islamic State) and so many people are very interested in what’s being done by the group in Iraq and Syria. I have received so many emails as regards the ISIS, particularly after posting pictures that shows extreme ISIS brutality in Iraq and Syria.
Pictures like these:

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     The world was extremely shocked by the terrible crimes that the ISIS has perpetrated against humanity which include very despicable acts like crucifixion, beheading of women and even children and mass massacre of soldiers and civilians belonging to ethnic and religious minorities. World super powers opened their eyes wider to the Islamic State threats mainly because of these three things:
√ The ISIS was becoming increasingly powerful by acquiring much more territories in Iraq and Syria. Territories that when put together is bigger than Britain’s landmass. They were also spreading their influence and gathering many jihadists from around the world. Of course, the United States and other Western countries knew that if the activities of the Islamic State continued unchecked, Iraq will rapidly become an international breeding ground for terrorists from where well co-ordinated attacks could be launched against the West.
√ ISIS was also become very rich from looting banks and forcefully taking over very productive oil fields. They were using this I’ll gotten wealth to acquire more weapons and train more effectively.

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√ Most importantly is the ISIS spree of killing of foreign journalists and aid workers. ISIS beheaded American James Foley and Stephen Sotloff and most recently, British Hostage, David Haines.
        These audacious moves by the ISIS have caused so much anger around the world, with President Obama and British Prime Minister condemning the acts and vowing to destroy the group. But as we all know, the US is war weary and are increasingly getting tires of being the ‘world police’. The US was however forced to conduct air strikes to weaken the monstrous ISIS while they sought for a concrete plan to deal with the group.
      President Obama finally decided that the US must not fight the ISIS alone and began to lobby for international support, a kind of ‘INTERNATIONAL COALITION‘ to combat the Islamic State group. The US Secretary of States, John Kerry spent four days in the Middle East trying to garner support for a wider international military action against the radical Islamic group. He was able to gain the support of Ten Arab countries.
On a broader level, 40 countries have indicated interest in combating the ISIS, the latest being Australia which has committed 600 troops.
      I’m in support of Obama’s strategy of an international coalition. US is obviously not ready to get sucked up in Iraq again as it is even blamed for the current crises that is shutting down the country. The world also cannot afford to keep silent and watch despicable atrocities like these continue.  Countries should be the police of one another during conflicts and work together for world peace and for the betterment of humanity.
      

Pakistan: Release the 100 jailed activists

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      I was so angry when I read Aljazeera report this morning about the sentencing of 100 activists in Pakistan. The activists were accused and found guilty of ‘staging illegal protests and committing several other violations, causing chaos and anger among activists’. The first thing that came to my mind when I read the charge was “what the hell is ‘several other violations‘?”
Then, it became clear to me that the charges were cooked up, as usual.

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Pakistani protest leader, firebrand cleric, Tahir ul-Qadri

      Recently, hundreds of Civilians led by the fire-spitting cleric, Tahir ul-Qadri have been protesting in Pakistan, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The angry Pakistani protesters accuse the Prime Minister of influencing the elections that returned him into power and are determined not to back down unless he resigns.  The Prime Minister has also been criticized for not doing enough during the recent floods that killed 280 and displaced thousands across Pakistan.

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    I have consistently condemned issues like this and the sad thing is that it is extremely common in many countries. Arresting and jailing of activists and protesters or forcefully dispersing them, especially when they are not violent is a serious threat to democracy and human rights. The infuriating thing is that this trend is adopted by so many governments in order to force loyalty and retain power.
     Use of force to disperse or crack down on protesters is counter-productive and is usually never the solution. Syria can serve as a good example. When you do not allow civilians to express their views through the major way they can (protests), they seek for other ways which usually is taking up arms and this only creates a straight corridor to war.

Is Putin trying to recreate the USSR?

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     Anyone who has been following the developments in Eastern Europe, particularly the crises between Russia and Ukraine must have asked or thought of these questions, “What is Russia’s main objective of trying to destabilize the region? Is Putin trying to recreate the defunct Soviet Republic? Why does Ukraine seem to be the main catch?”
    I always like to ask crucial questions and try to get answers to them and that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do relating to the Ukrainian crises.  I’m concerned about the crises in Ukraine, most especially because of more civilian deaths and the extremely fragile ceasefire which has repeatedly been violated over the past week. The death toll in Ukraine has risen to a little above 3,000. Many people including the United States President and Secretary of States have pointed accusing fingers at Russia of trying to destabilize the region and of course, this has brought on multiple U.S and E.U backed sanctions. I believe, without an iota of doubt, that Russia is backing the separatists in Ukraine and proividing them with military and logistic support.
      Ukrainian Prime Minster, Arseny Yatseniuk was more hard-hitting when he referred to Russia as the ‘key aggressor’.  More interestingly, he directly accused the Russian President, Vladimir Putin of ‘trying to destroy Ukraine as an independent country’. He further opined that Putin will not be content with just Crimea or even Eastern Ukraine but will try to take the whole of Ukraine.
There’s something I like so much about Yatseniuk and that’s his bluntness. On Vladmir Putin, He bluntly added that ‘his goal is to take the entire Ukraine. He cannot cope with an idea that Ukraine would be a part of big EU family. He wants to restore the Soviet Union’.
      Of course, its not only the Ukrainian Prime Minister that is of the opinion that Russia is not comfortable with the spreading European Union’s influence in Eastern Europe or that many former Soviet States are increasingly turning to the West. In thesame vein, America will do its best to prevent Russia’s influence in Europe or anything that looks like a reinvention of the Soviet Republic. Perhaps, its the battle for “World Power”. Russia, obviously, didnt just sit back and watch former Soviet States become pro-American. Putin decided to act and the most delicious dinner, he decided, had to be Ukraine. He set out with the annexation of Crimea in March. The world cried foul but nothing much was done except for some sanctions and he was successful. Putin’s technique now is trying to systematically destabilize Ukraine, particularly the Russian speaking parts and he probably plans to take cities like Donetsk and Luhansk.
      Putin wants Russia to get back to its very influential days as ‘World Super Power’ and of course he thinks the recreation of the powerful Soviet Union will be the best route to follow. He is also keen on keeping close relations with former Soviet States and prevent them from turning to the EU, NATO or America but to Russia. He knows that for Russia to bring back those days of influence, he must wrestle with U.S dominance. It seems to me that Putin is going after Ukraine because Ukraine is a really strategic country now. It boasts of a population of 45 million people and is probably the most influential former Soviet State after Russia. Getting Ukraine will be a huge success to Putin and will make his task of getting other smaller countries far easier.