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ASF France enforces rights of tortured detainees in Kaduna

By Bertram Nwannekanma   |   20 January 2015   |   5:55 pm  

FOR years, the three victims, namely Isaiah Sunday, Halima Umaru and Babangida Na’ado have been in prison custody in Kaduna for offences ranging from criminal conspiracy to armed robbery and homicide.

  During these years, they were subjected to severe acts of torture and inhuman treatments by the police and prison authorities in a bid to extract information from them.

  As a result of their torture, their lives were battered, while friends and family members deserted them, leaving them to their fate.

  The few passionate ones could only pray for Divine intervention, as it seems they were at their wits end.

  However, mother luck was soon to smile on them, when Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France), through its pro bono legal aid on the platform of the “Promoting the United Nations Convention Against Torture Project” in Nigeria (ProCAT) came to the picture.

   Today, that intervention which lasted between the months of October and December 2014, had led to their release, following a successful enforcement of their fundamental human rights.

  According to ASF France, Isaiah Sunday was arrested and detained at the Sabon Tasha Divisional headquarters in Sabon Gari, Kaduna on charges of alleged criminal conspiracy and armed robbery and was later transferred to the Kaduna State Criminal Investigation Department (CID). 

  However, at the Sabon Tasha Police station, severe acts of torture and inhuman treatments were meted out on him.

  These included being deprived of food and water for three days and being brutally beaten with a metal rod with specific attention paid to his ankles, waist and his knees.

  Also at the Kaduna State CID, there were allegations that he was intermittently beaten with a baton, gora and an iron rod, which left him with three deep gouges on his thigh.

  But ASF France tendered an application on his behalf citing the violation of his fundamental human rights as well as his entitlement to the respect for the dignity of his person and his right not to be subjected to torture as contained in section 34(1) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria was clearly breached by state actors in the police force.    

  ASF France had contended that he was not only arraigned before the chief magistrate’s court, which had no jurisdiction to try the matter, but also remanded in prison custody far beyond the dictates of the law.

  However, in a judgment delivered by the Kaduna State High Court, the acts of torture and inhuman treatment meted out on Isaiah were deemed as unlawful and unconstitutional. His prolonged stay in prison without trial was also described as a violation of his fundamental rights.

  Sunday was subsequently granted bail, awarded damages for the violation of his rights.

Similarly, Halima Umaru, a woman charged with culpable homicide, elicited a favourable outcome after ASF France filed an application for the violation of her fundamental human rights before a Kaduna State high court.

  She was arrested by the Police at Hunkuyi in Kaduna State where she was allegedly stripped to her underwear and physically beaten with a baton and whip. 

 The state CID where she was later transferred, she was bullied into admitting that she was 18 years old, despite the fact that she was 15, but the court ruled that the actions of the respondents were unconstitutional and illegal and awarded the sum of N2 million as damages for the violation of her fundamental human rights”, ASF France stated.

  The third victim, Na’ado was arrested in 2010 on alleged charges of Criminal conspiracy and armed robbery.

  He was taken into police custody and later transferred to Jaji cantonment where he was cruelly beaten with sticks until he lost all sensation of pain in a bid to get him to admit to stealing three phones and N10, 000. 

  “Na’ado was then transferred to the Kaduna state CID where he was viciously whipped with a cable wire for two days for refusing to append his thumbprint to confessional statements prepared for him. 

  He was also deprived of food and water for three days.

  But Na’ado, who has been in prison from 2010 to 2014 without charges being brought against him, was unconditionally released from prison after ASF France filed an application on his behalf enforcing his fundamental human rights.    

  Speaking on the matters, Head of ASF France office in Nigeria, Angela Uwandu, regretted that the absence of a law criminalizing torture makes it extremely difficult for the perpetrators of the crime to be held accountable especially in light of the fact that security agents commit some of these crimes.

  According to her: “The terrain for enforcing fundamental human rights in Nigeria is far from ideal by international human rights standards especially as it pertains to torture.”

  “What international human rights laws afford us is the opportunity to place that inalienable and universal value on human life so that the respect for the rule of law as it relates to all other rights proceeding comes with ease,” she added.

   Uwandu said ASF France ProCAT project funded by the United Nations voluntary funds for victims of torture; Betto Seraglini for International Justice, Allen & Overy Foundation and the Cabinet of the French Prime Minister is being implemented in Kaduna, Plateau and Enugu states.

  The project, she said, has recorded considerable success in obtaining redress before the courts for victims of torture since 2009. 



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