Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nigeria / Extrajudicial Killings

In Nigeria, No Peace from Police Officers
By Robyn Dixon
The Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2010
"Abdul Wuraola knelt in the dust, pleading for mercy. He'd offended the men with guns. They screamed at him in fury. Nothing he said appeased them. It took one downward thrust of a rifle butt into his skull to fell him. The gunmen weren't criminals. They were the police. His crime: He'd parked carelessly on the roadside in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna to buy oranges for his breakfast. Police and security forces in Nigeria routinely engage in random violence that results in hundreds of killings annually, according to human rights groups. There was the truck driver who drove past a police roadblock in February in the town of Kazaure because of poor brakes. Police dragged him from the vehicle and beat him to death. Or the student shot and killed that month in Gwarzo when police opened fire during a peaceful protest at a police station claiming that the authorities failed to properly investigate a homicide. Or the motorcyclist killed in January for getting in the way of a police convoy in Kaduna state. 'They got out and shot him,' said lawyer Shehu Sani of the Civil Rights Congress, a nongovernment group. In a rare admission, last monththen-Police Minister Ibrahim Lame condemned the violence in a meeting with federal police commanders. 'The current rate of crime across the nation, rising cases of extrajudicial killings, human rights violations, robberies, high-profile assassinations and deliberate failure to comply with government directives are testimony to the sheer incapacity or willful defiance of police high command,' Lame said. ...
Shootouts in which bystanders are killed are common. Those who refuse to pay bribes to police at roadblocks are sometimes shot. Torture in police custody is frequent, according to a December Amnesty International report titled 'Killing at Will.' It cites numerous cases in which men were arrested, taken to police stations and never seen again. In some cases, families were unofficially told that their relatives were dead. Police 'often claim that the victim was an armed robber killed in a shootout or while trying to escape police custody,' the report says. Noting that the law permits officers to shoot suspects who try to escape or avoid arrest, the report says, 'In practice, [this] lets the police get away with murder.' [...]"

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