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

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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid