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

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid