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 Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs