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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers 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.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid