US indicts Nigerian security agencies for corruption, impunity

The United States Government has indicted the Nigeria police, military and Department of State Services (DSS), for corruption, human rights violation and impunity.

The US Department of State uncovered the Misdemeanors in its ‘2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices’ in Nigeria.

“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.

“Police, the military, and the Department of State Services reported to civilian authorities, but periodically acted outside civilian control. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed numerous abuses”, the report said.

The report contained 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 disciplining offending officials encourages impunity and that the systems 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 further stated.

Two of Nigeria’s anti graft agencies – the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), were cited for inconclusive prosecution of public officials charged for corruption.

The US Department of State report accused the anti graft agencies of being selective and “focused on low and mid-level government officials.”

It, however, acknowledged 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.

“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.”

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