News / Africa

Nigerian Lawyers Call for Charge or Release of Detainees

Heather Murdock
Nigerian lawyers say thousands of people have been held without charges for up to two years as security forces fight insurgents known as Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northern Borno State, the original home of the militant group.
The lawyers, who are affiliated with the Nigerian Bar Association, say some detainees are dying in prison, having never been charged with a crime. They say they will appeal to the International Criminal Court if detainees are not charged or released on bail in what they call a “reasonable amount of time.”  
Rights watchdog group Amnesty International also says people are being unlawfully detained, but is more conservative with their estimate, saying hundreds are currently held without charges.
Abdulwasiu Alfa, the general secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association's Borno State branch, criticizes the actions of Nigeria's Joint Task Force [JTF], which is fighting Boko Haram.  
“Since they came to Borno State in 2011, no one, I repeat, not a single individual has been charged to court," said Alfa. "This is unconstitutional in our law. Even in capital offenses, as in terrorism or any other offenses you discover, that no one should be detained for more than two months, three months. That’s what the constitution says.”

Amnesty International also blames the Nigerian security forces for extrajudicial killings, a charge Nigerian authorities repeatedly have denied. Boko Haram often targets security forces and any counter-attacks have been in self-defense, they say.  
Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, a JTF spokesperson, issued a statement last weekend saying security forces are fulfilling their “constitutional responsibility of defending the nation from external and internal enemies.”
When asked by CNN last month if Nigerian security forces are guilty of “heavy handed crackdowns," President Goodluck Jonathan said the accusations are political.

“That is not correct! That is not correct!" he exclaimed. "And I have said it severally; those are insinuation by some interest group. Definitely they are insinuation by some interest group."

Boko Haram - a shadowy militant group without identifiable leaders - has been blamed for more than 1,500 deaths since it began violent operations in 2009. The group has attacked churches, schools, markets, government buildings and media houses.  
Human Rights Watch accuses Nigerian security forces of killing more than 1,000 others in what it calls “spiraling violence.”
Boko Haram has been silent in recent months, claiming no responsibility for continuing violence in northern Nigeria. Some analysts say this lends credibility to a ceasefire announcement by a self-proclaimed leader of the group late last month. Others say the continued violence, including the killings of nine polio vaccination workers in Kano last week, signals how fractured and unpredictable Boko Haram really is.
Adbulkareem Haruna contributed to this report from Maiduguri, Nigeria.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs