An Examination of the Legal Regime for the Prohibition of Torture in Nigeria


Torture is the intentional act of inflicting physical or mental pain and suffering on a person either for the purposes of obtaining information from the victim; or unjustly punishing him for an act ; intimidating him for any reason provided that it is not in compliance with lawful sanction of a court of competent authority or any tribunal established by law.   Thus, in Nigeria, the protection of human beings against torture is spelt out in numerous regimes because the rights to dignity of human persons cannot be derogated under whatever circumstances. Such legal regimes include the Constitution Federal Republic Nigeria [1999 as amended]; Evidence Act, 2011; the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015; Anti-Torture Act, 2017; Police Act, 2020; and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015. However, of worrisome is the fact that, despite the existence of these laws, torture of victims on daily basis is a tradition of government agencies in Nigeria. The sources of information relied upon for in this paper are relevant statutes on the subject matter, books, articles in journal publication, conference papers and judicial authorities. Importantly, the objective of the paper is to examine the adequacy or otherwise of the existing legal regimes on the prohibition of torture in Nigeria with a view to proffering measures that are necessary to prevent breaches of the regimes on the subject matter. This paper found among others that notwithstanding the revolutionary provisions ushered in by the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 to decisively terminate the long reign of torture especially those perpetuated by law enforcement officers in Nigeria, the practice still persists with arrant impunity largely due to lack of supervisory mechanism put in place within members of the different forces and security units by the government to checkmate the excesses of the perpetrators. Finally, this paper is concluded by recommending [among others] that, the Attorney General of the Federation by virtue of Sections 9 and 10 of the Anti-Torture Act, should embark on an intensive nationwide campaign and education retreats generally for members of the public, different forces and security units on the import and purpose of the regimes prohibiting torture in Nigeria.