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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid