Tabay: BBC exposes brutal torture by Nigerian security forces

Police armoured tank deployed to National Stadium for protest

The BBC Africa Eye has released a documentary exposing torture as a form of information-gathering technique and punishment among security forces in Nigeria.

The 15-minute documentary published on Monday covers both the Nigerian police and armed forces.

BBC Africa Eye said it began the investigation after it noticed multiple videos showing detainees bound in a particular way called ‘tabay’.

“The arms are forced back and tied at the elbows cutting circulation to the hands and immobilising the victim,” it said. “Sustained over hours, this can be agonising.”

The process is followed by variations such as tying the feet back, arching the spine to form a triangle with the victim’s body.

Sometimes, victims including children are suspended in the air or a heavy block placed on their back to intensify the pain.

The investigator said the most brutal variant of all, according to an eyewitness, is called the bicycle ride which is mostly used by the highly-criticised Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

It also said it contacted three Nigerian soldiers who were part of armed forces sent to Sierra Leone and Liberia for peacekeeping mission during civil wars.

The soldiers confirmed that they first saw tabay being practised in Liberia.

One of the soldiers told BBC Africa Eye that the rebels first used it to force information out of their captives before soldiers started using it on the rebels.

However, it is believed tabay originated from Egypt.

Despite the anti-torture act of 2017 banning the use of torture in Nigeria, the documentary says the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) are some of the worst offenders.

Human rights lawyer, Justus Ijeoma, told the investigators that “on paper” tabay is a criminal offence in Nigeria.

“There is no circumstance that permits the use of torture under our laws,” he said.

BBC Africa Eye said it alerted the minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who said the NSCDC has zero-tolerance towards torture.

The Nigerian army, however, said Boko Haram members sometimes camouflage as Nigerian soldiers to discredit the army and also vowed to look into the footages.

The Nigeria police authorities, it said, did not respond.

Watch full video here