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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid