The Nigeria police has revealed why its men shot at the genitals of some suspected kidnappers in Abia state.
This comes after a video went viral showing some of the suspected kidnappers writhing at the back of a police van and struggling to breathe after they had been shot in their private parts by officers.
Revealing details why the policemen shot at the genitals of the suspected kidnappers, Abia police spokesperson, Geoffrey Ogbonna told Premium Times that the suspects were shot after they had first fired at officers attached to the Intelligence Response Team when they attempted to free an abducted victim in Abia State last week.
"In the course of the shootout, some of the kidnappers sustained injuries and were overpowered," Abia police spokesperson, Geoffrey Ogbonna is quoted as saying.
Mr. Ogbonna, a deputy superintendent of police further added that 'over seven' kidnappers were involved in the abduction of a 76-year-old man victim with a history of hypertension.
The victim was rescued but later died at the hospital, having allegedly been tortured by the kidnappers in their den, Mr. Ogbonna said. The officers recovered AK-47 guns, ammunition and three vehicles from the suspects.
The video is believed to have been shot on December 11 or 12. In the video, some officers surrounded a truck marked as belonging to the police in Abia State and in which the suspected had been crammed.
"You wan turn millionaire overnight, bah?" an officer asked rhetorically in Nigerian Pidgin. "You want to get rich quick."
"This one wants to die," another voice said in an apparent interjection. "Na death e dey wait for like this; e dey struggle the thing."
Nigerians who saw the video didn't react kindly to it, as they accused the police of human rights abuses.
"This is a clear case of torture and extra-judicial execution," said Okechukwu Nwanguma of the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria, NOPRIN.
The Human Rights Watch found in 2007 that Nigeria police officers killed more than 10,000 citizens within seven years, a figure it said was conservative.
Mr. Nwanguma decried the unimaginable level of atrocities being allegedly perpetrated by police officers every day in Nigeria, considering that most of the gruesome abuses and execution hardly make it to the public domain.
"The duty of the police is to arrest, investigate and produce accused persons to court for fair trial," Mr. Nwanguma said. "Executing crime suspects extra-judicially is both unlawful and criminal."
He called on the police leadership and the Nigerian government to pursue a lasting solution to the horrific activities of officers before it is too late.
"The case underscores the need for the police hierarchy to demonstrate that they are serious about their promise to reform the institution," said Mr. Nwanguma, whose organisation has tracked numerous cases of abuses by the police for many years.
"Part of this reform would be to bring officers responsible for this and similar egregious violations to a public trial in order to send out a clear message that the police as an institution does not tolerate human rights atrocities," he added.