News / Africa

Rights Group, Experts Urge Careful Response to Nigeria Violence

Nigerian police patrol as people attend prayers marking the muslim festival of Eid al-Adha in the capital Abuja, November 6, 2011.
Nigerian police patrol as people attend prayers marking the muslim festival of Eid al-Adha in the capital Abuja, November 6, 2011.

Human rights advocates and Nigeria experts are calling for a careful security response to recent violence in Nigeria's north by Islamist extremists.  They warn a botched reaction could lead to even more violence.  

Human Rights Watch is urging Nigerian authorities to act swiftly to bring to justice those responsible for what it calls the "terrible crimes" that killed at least 100 people in the northern state of Yobe November 4.

Boko Haram

The perpetrators have been identified as a group of Islamist extremists dubbed by Nigerian authorities and the media as Boko Haram - which in Hausa roughly means "Western education is a sin."

The extremists say they want strict imposition of Sharia, or Islamic law, in northern areas.  They say they will continue their violent campaign until Nigerian security forces stop persecuting their members and vulnerable civilians.

Human Rights Watch

In a statement issued this week, Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram is linked to attacks which have killed more than 425 people this year - including police officers, soldiers, community leaders, politicians, Islamic clerics, Christian pastors and church members.

But the New York-based group is also warning against abuses by Nigerian police and the military. Several hundred people were killed in a crackdown on the insurgents in 2009.  Human Rights Watch says that since then, it has documented abuses that include extrajudicial executions.

William Minter, who has been closely following the developments as editor of the Africa Focus online bulletin, says Nigerian security forces must understand their conduct can also be a part of the problem.

Police abuse

"If you kill a number of people or arrest a number of people but at the same time further alienate the population so that you increase the number of recruits, you are only leading to escalation and ignoring the real structural roots of why such discontent emerges," Minter said.

Nigeria has taken legal action in response to specific cases of abuse.  Earlier this year, five police officers were criminally charged in the 2009 deaths of Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf and some of his followers.

But experts say the government needs to do more to address the issues of poverty and corruption that led to the rise of the extremists and local support for them.  John Campbell, who has been researching and writing about Nigeria for the Council on Foreign Relations, says there is a lot of anger.  

"What you have got is an extremely bloody - what shall we call it insurrection - that reflects the impoverishment of northern Nigeria," he said. "Also I think it's increased alienation from a government in Abuja which it does not think is particularly responsive to it."

Riots erupted in parts of northern Nigeria after this April's presidential election won by Goodluck Jonathan, who comes from the oil-rich south.  Nigeria's southern areas have also had years of violent militancy from groups saying oil riches have been unfairly distributed.  

North needs rebuilding

Paul Lubeck, a political sociologist from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and expert in northern Nigerian Islamic groups, says what northern Nigeria needs is to rebuild its industrial base, which existed until the mid-1980s, and start growing more rice.

"All of this requires a strategy for northern economic recovery that would benefit Nigeria and one that would offer youth hope.  Because if the spiral continues to go downward, there will be continuous, festering insurrections, stimulated by interventions by security forces that only make things worse," said Lubeck.

Lubeck and Campbell both see a role for the United States - which has expressed concern that northern Nigeria could start resembling parts of al-Shabab-dominated Somalia.  Both stress U.S. diplomacy and training could help the Jonathan administration deal with problems that a military response alone cannot solve.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs