News / Africa

HRW, Nigerian Lawyers Seek Crackdown on Political Violence

TEXT SIZE - +

Violent, rigged elections have been the norm in Nigeria since 1999 when the country moved from military to civilian rule.

Election-related violence killed at least 300 people during the last nationwide poll in 2007, which was so marked by voter intimidation and ballot stuffing that it was rejected by many national and international observers.

Now, just weeks away from a series of nationwide elections that promise to be the country's most contested to date, Human Rights Watch says election-related violence has killed more than 50 people since November and is expected to increase.

HRW, Nigerian Lawyers Seek Crackdown on Political Violence
HRW, Nigerian Lawyers Seek Crackdown on Political Violence

The head of Nigeria's federal law-enforcement agency, the State Security Service, warned politicians at a meeting this week in the capital, Abuja, not to use violence against their rivals.

Chairman of the Election Working Group at the Nigerian Bar Association, Dafe Akpedeye, said these warnings need to be paired with increased accountability.

"If people have done violence in the past and nothing has happened to them, then there is the motive to do more violence," said Akpedeye. "Everyone is craving that political power because with political power comes all the perks associated with it. Because people want this desperately, they'll do anything they can to ensure that nobody gets them out of office, win the elections by any means, whether fair or otherwise."

He said bombing a political rally can be a way to block rival candidates from campaigning or intimidate an opponent's supporters in the hopes that they won't go to the polls on election day.

Nigerian authorities have expressed concern about bombings and other forms of pre-vote violence.

The most recent attack happened two weeks ago when a bomb exploded in a roadside market near a ruling party election rally in the central town of Suleja, killing 10 people and injuring at least 20 more.

Car bombings rocked the capital, Abuja, on Independence Day in October and on New Year's Eve, killing dozens. On Christmas Eve, explosions and reprisal attacks rocked the country's volatile middle belt region, where religious and ethnic clashes have killed hundreds in recent years.

Opposition campaigns in the country's troubled oil-producing Niger Delta region have also been the targets of bombings. The main militant group in the Delta, MEND, said this week it would launch fresh attacks on oil installations and political meetings.

Human Rights Watch says corrupt politicians, in many cases backed by mafia-like "godfathers," openly mobilize gangs of thugs to terrorize ordinary citizens and political opponents and to stuff or steal ballot boxes. Akpedeye says the police charged with investigating these crimes often turn a blind eye, or sometimes participate, in abuses.

"Because the police themselves have stood by while this violence happened, they are more or less implicated in the process. If you ask me, they are complicit in the process, so they can be judged on their own costs," Akpedeye said.

The Nigerian Bar Association and Human Rights Watch are calling on the National Assembly to pass a now two-year-old bill that would create a special Electoral Offenses Commission to investigate and prosecute election-related abuses, including violence.

"If you warn me and I know that there are no consequences for my bad behavior, why should I stop?" Akpedeye asked. "If you have an independent commission, then the powers that be can actually be brought to book and punished."

Nigeria goes to the polls for nationwide elections next month, including a presidential poll on April 9.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid