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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs