News / Africa

Report: Minimal Arrests for Mass Killings in Nigeria

Heather Murdock
A new report by Human Rights Watch says thousands of people have been killed in inter-communal violence in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” during the past four years and almost none of the killers have been prosecuted.  In Abuja, locals say without justice, the violence will only get worse.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
After the 2011 elections, violence broke out in Kaduna killing more than 800 people.  Locals say those responsible still do business in Kaduna as if nothing happened.

“Someone who creates crisis, somebody who causes mayhem, somebody who causes the death of people, or the destruction of hundreds of millions of Naira worth of property will still be walking as a free man on the streets.  It is very, very alarming, disappointing and it is frightening,” said politician and Kaduna resident Sunday Mudakai.

Few prosecutions

A Muslim woman, from the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group, holds up a photograph of her husband who was killed on April 19, 2011 in Zonkwa, Kaduna State. (Photo: © 2011 Eric Guttschuss/Human Rights Watch)A Muslim woman, from the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group, holds up a photograph of her husband who was killed on April 19, 2011 in Zonkwa, Kaduna State. (Photo: © 2011 Eric Guttschuss/Human Rights Watch)
x
A Muslim woman, from the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group, holds up a photograph of her husband who was killed on April 19, 2011 in Zonkwa, Kaduna State. (Photo: © 2011 Eric Guttschuss/Human Rights Watch)
A Muslim woman, from the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group, holds up a photograph of her husband who was killed on April 19, 2011 in Zonkwa, Kaduna State. (Photo: © 2011 Eric Guttschuss/Human Rights Watch)
The Human Rights Watch report says despite witnesses reporting attacks to the police in Kaduna and Plateau states during the past four years, only a few people have been prosecuted for thousands of killings.

Kaduna and Plateau are in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt,” which is roughly where the mostly Christian south meets the mostly Muslim north.  The area has a long history of mass violence.  It is often called sectarian violence because it is usually Christians and Muslims at odds.  But in Nigeria, tribal, economic and political differences line up with religious differences.

“Members of communities who have been victims of attacks in the absence of effective remedies within the formal justice system have frequently taken the law into their own hands and carried out revenge attacks,” said Human Rights Watch Nigeria researcher Eric Guttschuss.

He said after an attack, police round up people on the scene, but often have a difficult time sorting out who did what.  Police also sometimes demand cash to investigate crimes, he noted, and most victims can not afford to pay.

Communities also pressure authorities not to arrest members of their group, Guttschuss added. 

"We have seen in the past that the police have said they are afraid, and the Nigerian authorities have said they are afraid to carry out arrests for fear that it could spark new violence within these communities,” he explained.

Upcoming election

A Christian woman, from the Berom ethnic group, holds up a photograph of her son who was killed in a February 22, 2011 attack on Bere Riti village, Plateau State. (Photo:© 2012 Eric Guttschuss/Human Rights Watch)A Christian woman, from the Berom ethnic group, holds up a photograph of her son who was killed in a February 22, 2011 attack on Bere Riti village, Plateau State. (Photo:© 2012 Eric Guttschuss/Human Rights Watch)
x
A Christian woman, from the Berom ethnic group, holds up a photograph of her son who was killed in a February 22, 2011 attack on Bere Riti village, Plateau State. (Photo:© 2012 Eric Guttschuss/Human Rights Watch)
A Christian woman, from the Berom ethnic group, holds up a photograph of her son who was killed in a February 22, 2011 attack on Bere Riti village, Plateau State. (Photo:© 2012 Eric Guttschuss/Human Rights Watch)
But as Nigeria looks toward upcoming presidential elections, Kaduna residents say that if arrests are not made for the 2011 violence there will be no stopping the bloodshed in 2015.

“Look at the 2011 elections," noted Abubakar Abba, a local journalist in Kaduna. "There were so many people that committed crimes.  I do not want to mention the name of the party, but that party was able to secure the bail of those people.  Which means any time, in any elections they can commit any crime, because they know they have a godfather who will bail them out.”

Human Rights Watch says the police should set up a special team to investigate and make arrests for mass killings and the federal government should investigate why so few people have been punished so far.

In the meantime, "Middle Belt" residents are bracing for more violence as local elections in Plateau State are expected early next year.

Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Abuja.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jos from: Nigeria
December 12, 2013 11:36 AM
let me tell you, this did not happen here before Hizbullah entered our country. Iranian Hizbullahs are here spreading Shia islam to murder all Christians here. why world is so silent??

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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