Security agencies in Nigeria have cumulatively killed 13, 241 citizens since 2011, an international human rights group, Centre for Democracy and Development, said on Monday.
The organisation said that extrajudicial killings conducted by state actors have become the primary cause of death in Nigeria.
This was contained in a report by the CDD titled, ‘Democracy Watch Reports’, presented to journalists in Abuja.
While expressing concerns over the nation’s shrinking civic space, the organisation said that democracy in Nigeria had been experiencing major setbacks in the last 22 years.
The Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, while giving an overview of the report, expressed regret that unlawful killings have become rife in the country since 1999.
According to her, many of the killings were perpetrated by security forces.
She said, “These unlawful killings go largely unpunished, thanks in part to Nigeria’s Force Order 237, which allows officers to use lethal force in ways that contravene international law, and because of government corruption and a prevailing culture of impunity.
“Successive governments in Nigeria have used unlawful killings to quell secessionist upheavals and terrorist activities, a practice that was exacerbated during President Muhammadu’s Buhari’s tenure – such as the unlawful killing of 350 Islamic Movement of Nigeria members by the Nigerian army in 2015.
“It is pertinent to state that extrajudicial killings conducted by state actors have become the primary cause of death in the country. In fact, state actors have cumulatively killed 13, 241 people since 2011.”
Hassan said that over 70 per cent of the prison population was made up of detainees awaiting trial, with over 20 per cent awaiting trial for more than a year.
She said the report observed an emergent trend of security officers receiving orders from elites in Nigeria to remand detainees for longer on spurious grounds.
“Compounding the effects of illegal detention is the horrible detention situation in Nigeria that further exacerbates human rights violations. Overcrowding in Nigerian prisons has increased by more than 1,000 per cent in the last decade,” she stated.
Hassan added that governments have frequently invoked the pretext of “preventing terrorist actions” to justify disrupting peaceful protests and social movements.
She stated that by doing so, the government had severely restricted Nigerians’ rights to assemble and demonstrate, in violation of the constitutional provisions.
“Peaceful protests are regularly met with violent attacks by security personnel or even are prevented from protesting in the first place. The excessive use of force in reaction to largely peaceful protests – — most recently visible during the #ENDSars protests – has created a frightening climate that discourages or limits the right to assemble. Undaunted, Nigerians protested on Democracy Day in June 2021 but were once again met with the deployment of security forces spraying tear gas and firing live bullets into the ait to disperse what they referred to as ‘anti-government’ protests,” the CDD director said.
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