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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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