Nigerian police are denying reports
that they are using increasingly violent means, including torture and illegal
killings in their fight against militants in the volatile Niger Delta region.
Amnesty International reported Thursday it has seen an upsurge of disappearances
and violence in the oil-rich region.
But a Nigeria national police spokesman,
Emmanuel Ojukwu said torture and illegal killings are not official Nigerian
Aster van Kregten, Amnesty International researcher on Nigeria told VOA her organization wants to know the
whereabouts of four unarmed men and a former gang member in the Niger Delta.
recently received reports about the case of Mr. Chika Ibeku who was arrested
last week by the Nigerian police in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. His family
visited him and saw him while he was in police detention, and then after…he was
transferred to another police station. From that point, the police have denied
that he was in their detention. This is extremely concerning. We don't know
about his whereabouts and we don't know what happened to him. We do know that
along with him there were three other men, and we don't know what happened to
them," she said.
national police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu told VOA that torture and illegal
killings are not official Nigerian government policies. He said the Niger Delta
militants have not only been at war with themselves but unleashed violence
against the police.
last part talked about torture and illegal killings. Those are not the hallmarks
of Nigerian police. We do not normally tolerate nor compromise such. But
talking about violence in Niger Delta, there has been a lot of unrest in the
Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The Nigerian police and the security forces have
been contending with that development. But one thing is that there are many
cult groups, rival gangs who are at war between themselves and among
themselves. So they are the ones that unleash violence not only on themselves
but also on the security forces, including Nigerian police," he said.
said a few months back Niger Delta militants killed about 17 police officers,
burnt down a police station and destroyed government property.
is violence on the part of militants, and of course nobody will expect the
Nigerian police to full its arms and allow the militants to overrun the place,
otherwise Nigeria will become ungovernable. The Nigerian police are rising to
the situation in accordance with laws of Nigeria," he said.
Kregten said Amnesty knew that Chika Ibeku was supposed to be a member of one
of the criminal gangs in the Niger Delta and reportedly he had gone to the police
station to hand over his guns in line with the government's recent offer of
amnesty for militants in the Niger Delta.
Kregten said the Nigerian government has a duty to abide by its own
constitution and international obligations.
would like to reiterate that under the Nigerian constitution and also under
Nigerian international obligations, all suspects of any crime should be brought
before a court within reasonable time, and reasonable time is 48 hours. And we
know that Mr. Chika Ibeku was arrested in the seventh of April 2009 and until
now he has not been brought before a court. So we really want to know did the
Nigerian police arrest him, is he in their detention and what happened to him?"
Kregten said Amnesty wrote to the police commissioner of Rivers State this
month about the whereabouts of Ibeku, but she said the police did not respond
to Amnesty's inquiry.
really want to know what happened to Mr. Ibeku. I think it's extremely
important that the Nigerian police is clear about what they do. If they arrest
people then they should bring them to the court, and the Nigerian constitution
is very clear on that. They should suspects to the court within 48 hours. We
really want to know what happened to Mr. Ibeku, and we really want to see him
in court," Van Kregten said.
spokesman Ojukwu said he did not know about the detention of Ibeku and others
whom Amnesty claimed have not been heard from.
do not know about the gang members or their leaders if they are held in detention.
Normally most of them who are held in detention are out of speculation. But
they do have contacts with their love ones in accordance with the law. So I am
not aware that they have not been heard from for quite some time," Ojukwu said.