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#EndSarsNow: Compensation For Police Brutality.

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#EndSarsNow: Compensation For Police Brutality. Daily Law Tips (Tip 668) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)


“Police is your friend” is now an annoying fallacy in Nigeria. The media is full of reports of reckless police brutality, especially from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force. This has spurred backlash from the public and caused a withdrawal of the SARS from patrol duties, by the head of police. However, many believe that change of theatre for SARS is not the solution, hence the call for #EndSarsNow. Police brutality is found across all units, departments and locations in Nigeria even though Nigeria has laws to punish and deter police torture. This work focuses on remedies that a victim of police brutality can access in Nigeria.   

Police And Human Rights: 

Nigerian Police Force is a creation of the constitution of the good people of Nigeria. The Police Force is designed to protect lives and property among other things, as expected, this does not include brutality to people. The same constitution that created Nigerian Police Force, also created  the unshakable fundamental human rights of persons in Nigeria. Fundamental human rights are those basic rights that make us human beings and not cockroaches that can be caged, killed and tossed around. Every human right is golden and cannot be disrespected or suspended by any police officer, not even the Inspector General of Police. For avoidance of doubt, the full list of the fundamental human rights in Nigeria, will be shown below. 

Full List Of Fundamental Human Rights In Nigeria:

The fundamental human rights contained in the constitution of Nigeria are: Right to Life, Right to Dignity of Human Person, Right to Personal Liberty, Right to Fair Hearing, Right to Private and Family Life, Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, Right to Freedom of Expression and the Press, Rights to Peaceful Assembly and Association, Right to Freedom of Movement, Right to Freedom from Discrimination and then, Right to Acquire and Own Immovable Property anywhere in Nigeria. These rights should not be violated by any person, including  law enforcement  agencies or agents in any part of Nigeria. Consequently, where there is a violation or even mere attempted violation of a fundamental human right, the victim and any other person on behalf of the victim, can seek justice against the violator. Part of justice is compensation and many other remedies, as will be shown later. 

Police Torture and Law:

The keepers of people are now the killers of people; this is the sorry state of policing in Nigeria. Torture is the best friend of police officers across Nigeria. So, what does the Nigerian law say about Torture? Torture is the intentional infliction/causing of mental or physical pain/suffering on a person in order to obtain information/confession, or to punish, intimidate and force him or a third party. Torture includes; beatings, food deprivation, rubbing of pepper/chemicals, assuming of stressful bodily positions, rape, exposure to cold/sunlight, use of drugs, blindfolding, threat, prolonged interrogation, unscheduled transfer of persons, secret detention, denial of sleep, shaming, stripping naked and parading in public places. 

There is no justification for torture, not even war, national security or high profile case. Every police torture is a violation of fundamental human right. Where there is torture in any security agency, the immediate commanding officer officer in-charge of the unit/department that committed such offence of torture will be held liable as an accessory to the crime, for any act or omission or negligence on his part that may have led to the commission of torture by his subordinates/colleagues. Any person that witnesses or is present when torture is being conducted is as liable as the person that conducted torture. Such witness is deemed as having participated in the torture. This applies to any person; military, para-military or civilian! By the way, the new punishment for torture since 2017, will be discussed below.   

Compensation For Victims Of Police Brutality:

Every violation or attempt to violate a fundamental human right comes with huge consequence, irrespective of the status and office of the offender. Any person in Nigeria can be sued (taken to court) for violation or attempting to violate a fundamental human right of another person. Even the President of Nigeria, Vice President of Nigeria, any Governor or Deputy Governor, that may be enjoying executive immunity from being sued while in office, can be sued for violation of human rights, immediately after his/her tenure in office. Human rights cases do not expire, they can be brought to court any time. The court for cases of enforcement of fundamental human rights are the State High Court, the FCT High Court or the Federal High Court) any time. 

Where a victim is alive, he is entitled to compensation/remedies for his violated human right and where a victim is dead, the dependants/family of the victim, are entitled to the compensation/remedies that should have gone to the victim. Among the compensation/remedies of any victim of police brutality or the family/dependants of a victim, include; 

  1. Immediate Release of Victim: Where a victim is being detained by any law enforcement agency, a court can order the immediate unconditional release of the victim from detention.  
  2. Access to Medical Treatment: A court can order a violator of human right to pay the cost of medical treatments of a victim. 
  3. Access to Lawyer and Family: A court can order that a victim be immediately granted access to a lawyer of his/her choice as well as the family members. 
  4. Prohibitive Injunction: A court can make an order, prohibiting the police or any law enforcement agency from further violation of human rights of a victim. This is good to stop and avoid further harassment and the shameful practise where victims are released and immediately re-arrested.
  5. Declaration: A court can declare that the rights of a victim has been violated, that such violation is wrong and with consequences. This often clears the way for the administration of consequent punishment on a violator. 
  6. Special and General Damages: For any human right that is violated or attempted to be violated, a court can order monetary compensation to be paid to a victim by the violator. In some cases, the victim needs to prove that he spent or lost certain amount of money/property that he or she would want want to recover. Such can be established through receipts, emails, cards, SMS, pictures, videos, witnesses and any other proof, this type is known as “Special Damages”.  Also, a victim may seek for monetary compensation for trauma, pressure, shame, stress, loss of job, delay, hardship and any other thing that can not be quantified/ascertained. This last type is known as “General Damage”. 
  7. Apology: A court can order a violator to write and publish an apology letter to a victim. It can even be published on newspapers, websites and any platform. 
  8. Any Other Remedy: The court can order anything that the court considers appropriate for the enforcement of fundamental human right of a victim. This may include, an order that a victim be produced in court from any detention centre, or that a given government office/officer must do any duty it has been created to do, among other things. 
  9. Imprisonment: Under the Anti-Torture Act 2017, any form of torture is an offence and court can punish an offender with imprisonment for not more than 25 years, without an option of fine. 
  10. Death: Where violation of fundamental human right leads to death of victim, the violator will be tried for murder. The punishment for murder is death. 


While we demand for SARS to be ended because of the brutality baked daily by the squad, the victims of such torture have legal remedies. For any fundamental human right that is violated, there are huge consequence on the violator and there are compensation/remedies for the victim. Never be shy or too religious to enforce your fundamental human right, enforcement will discourage law enforcement agents from being reckless and unprofessional. Contact your lawyer and sue any police officer or law enforcement agent that has ever violated your fundamental human right. Do this to discourage the surge in police brutality. The Nigerian Police Force must ensure that budget of police force (tax payers fund) is not used to pay damages on behalf of police officers, rather concerned violators/officers must be made to pay for any damages/liabilities from their salaries and retirement benefits. Police can only be a friend, when police becomes professional and behaves like a friend.  

My authorities are:

  1. Sections 1, 33 to 46, 214, 215 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. Sections 2, 8 and 14 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017.
  3. The judgment in the case of Fawehinmi V. Abacha  (1998) 1 HRLRA 665 (where court granted victim access to his wife and medical care).
  4. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on meaning and nature of fundamental human rights) in the case of RANSOME-KUTI & ORS v. AG FEDERATION & ORS (1985) LPELR-2940(SC)
  5. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on meaning and nature of fundamental human rights) in the case of AGBAI & ORS v. OKOGBUE (1991) LPELR-225(SC)
  6. “Any Security Agency’s Manual/Protocol That Allows Torture Even For National Security Cases Is Unlawful And Its Officers Are Liable”, Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tip [Tip 412] <> accessed 5 October 2020. 
  7. “What Is The Punishment For Any Person Including Police Officers That Tortures Another Person”, Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tip [251]) <> accessed 5 October 2020.
  8. “Is Obeying “Orders From Above” A Defence For Torture In Nigeria”, Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tips [Tip 409]) <> accessed 5 October 2020. 
  9. Direct access to previous works on Torture in Nigeria <>  










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