News / Africa

    HRW, Nigerian Lawyers Seek Crackdown on Political Violence

    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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora