THE United States (US) has accused Nigerian security agencies, including the police, the military and the State Security Service (SSS) of corruption, human rights violation and impunity.
This was disclosed in the 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released by the the US Department of State on Wednesday.
“Impunity, exacerbated by corruption and a weak judiciary, remained a significant problem in the security forces, especially in police, military, and the Department of State Services,” the report said.
Although the indicted security agencies report to civilian authorities they periodically acted outside civilian control, according to the report.
It added that “there were credible reports that members of the security forces committed numerous abuses”.
The report highlighted incidents of extrajudicial killings, stifling of free speech, human rights violations, political witch-hunting and other issues in Nigeria.
The US said the opaque nature of the procedure for disciplining offending officials encourages impunity, noting that the system shield erring officers found culpable in multiple crimes.
“The government regularly utilised disciplinary boards and mechanisms to investigate security force members and hold them accountable for crimes committed on duty, but the results of these accountability mechanisms were not always made public,” the report said.
The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were accused of inconclusive prosecution of public officials charged for corruption.
The report accused the anti-graft agencies of being selective and “focused on low-and mid-level government officials”.
It, however, noted that both organisations brought indictments against various active and former high-level government officials.
“Many of the corruption cases, particularly the high-profile ones, remained pending before the courts due to administrative or procedural delays,” the report said, stating that the government deliberately underfunds the judiciary to make it ineffective.
On human rights violations, the report noted that the National Committee Against Torture established by the Ministry of Justice has been hindered from working effectively due to a “lack of legal and operational independence and limited funding”.
The report added, “Prison and detention centre conditions remained harsh and life-threatening. Prisoners and detainees reportedly were subjected to gross overcrowding, inadequate medical care, food and water shortages, and other abuses. Some of these conditions resulted in deaths.”