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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    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??

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    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 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora