Online proceedings for the IRCT General Assembly and 10th International Scientific Symposium - Delivering on the Promise of the Right to Rehabilitation

Time: 15:20 to 15:40 Download Presentation

Efficacy of traditional cultural practices in the rehabilitation of victims of torture in Nigeria's Niger Delta

Presenter(s) and co-author(s): Dr. Abosede Babatunde ( University of Ilorin - Nigeria )


In Nigeria, torture is becoming rampant as a weapon of armed conflicts in which armed militias in the Niger Delta raped, maimed and kidnapped local people as tactics adopted in their violent confrontation with the oil- multinationals and government. The government security agencies have also been accused by Human Rights Watch of human rights violations including torture and other ill-treatment against the local people. This situation led to the resort of the local people to indigenous approach for the rehabilitation of victims of torture. This paper examines the efficacy of traditional practices in the rehabilitation of victims of torture in Nigeria.


Data is derived through interviews with key informants and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) conducted with victims of torture, youth militias, priests, secret cults, community leader, women leaders, youth leaders, security agencies, oil companies personnel among others in the local communities in the Niger Delta states of Bayelsa and Ilaje, Ondo states. A sample size of three (3) major oil-bearing communities was drawn from each of the two states of Bayelsa and Ondo using the systematic random sampling.

The selection of three (3) communities each from the two oil-producing states is because the population is homogeneous sharing cultural similarity, ethnicity, language and economic activities. The communities selected in Ilaje oil-bearing areas of Ondo states are the coastal communities such as Awoye, Obe-Nla and Ayetoro. In Bayelsa, the oil-bearing communities in Og-bia, Nembe and Brass local government areas were selected. Data is also obtained from relevant extant studies. The paper does not have any ethical issues to address. It will also adhere to the appropriate research standard.


The paper argues that traditional cultural practices are integral to the success of the rehabilitation of victims of torture in the Nigeria's Niger Delta. By means of reconciliation, rituals, both the perpetrators and the victims are re-integrated into the community. Traditional methods of purification and healing, carried out by customary healers, priests and other spiritual authorities are of utmost importance for the mental and spiritual rehabilitation of victims and perpetrators. The mental healing of victims who were deeply traumatised by the experiences of torture during violent conflict is an aspect of peacebuilding that is at least as important as material reconstruction. Conclusively, efforts should be geared towards the use of local knowledge about the reconciliation rituals which would allow the local communities to own and control the process. The traditional forms of justice and reconciliation that address the psychosocial trauma of victims of torture are critical in the rehabilitation process.

Funding & No Conflicts Declaration

I have not obtained any funding for the submitted research paper. There is no issue of conflict to address with regard to this research paper.

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