News / Africa

Nigerian Candidates Challenged to Improve Human Rights

Members of the Party Loyalists drive their motocycles outside the entrance of a park in front of posters  featuring  Nigeria's opposition leader Mohammadu Buhari (R) and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan and his Vice President Namadi Sambo (L)  in Kad
Members of the Party Loyalists drive their motocycles outside the entrance of a park in front of posters featuring Nigeria's opposition leader Mohammadu Buhari (R) and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan and his Vice President Namadi Sambo (L) in Kad
TEXT SIZE - +

Election observers are arriving in Nigeria to monitor three weeks of voting for new lawmakers, governors, and a president for Africa's most populous nation. Human Rights Watch says those candidates have not spent enough time addressing issues of communal violence and corruption.

Human Rights Watch says those elected must address what it calls Nigeria's profound human rights challenges: communal violence, abuses by government security forces, endemic corruption, violence in the Niger Delta, pervasive election-related abuses, and a culture of impunity for all manner of human rights violations.

"Nigerian security forces have a long history of carrying out abuses against Nigerian citizens, particularly members of the Nigerian police force have been implicated in extra-judicial killings, torture, and other forms of ill treatment whether it be individuals who are in police custody or ordinary citizens," said Eric Guttschuss, a researcher on Nigeria for Human Rights Watch. "The problem is that again members of the security forces who commit these abuses are rarely held accountable."


Election observers say they will be watching for signs of violence between Muslims and Christians in northern Nigeria, especially as incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan is from the predominantly Christian south and his main challenger, former military leader Muhammadu Buhari, is from the mainly-Muslim north.

The risk is especially high in Plateau state, where Guttschuss says more than 1,000 people were killed in communal violence over the last year.

"Unfortunately, the Nigerian authorities have failed to break the cycle of violence by holding the perpetrators accountable with investigations and prosecutions," he said. "They have also failed to address some of the state and local government policies that are exacerbating inter-communal tensions, including policies that discriminate against those who are designated as non-indigenes, ethnic groups that are not originally from the areas where they reside."

Corruption is always a political issue in Nigerian elections. Human Rights Watch says candidates can show it is more than talk by opening up their own campaigns to public scrutiny.

"We have called on them to declare their assets and ensure that constitutional provisions that allow Nigerian citizens the right to inspect asset declaration forms of public officials, that those constitutional provisions are upheld," said Guttschuss.

Guttschuss says the late president Umaru Musa Yar'Adua made some progress fighting corruption, and that has been continued with President Jonathan, who took power following Yar'Adua's death.

"We've seen some key prosecutions over the last five years, but unfortunately many of the cases have languished in the courts, and high-level government officials who have been widely implicated in the theft of state treasuries have not been prosecuted," he added.

Human Rights Watch says many Nigerians expected the end of military rule in 1999 to bring much-needed improvements in human rights. But the group says three successive administrations have left those hopes largely unfulfilled.

More than 70 million Nigerians are registered for these legislative, gubernatorial, and presidential elections. As presidential and vice-presidential candidates debate this week, Human Rights Watch says they should send a clear signal that they intend to break with the past and bring genuine reform to Nigeria.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
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