Human Rights Watch said Monday that there is a “thick veil of violence” surrounding elections scheduled to take place in Nigeria later this month.
The violence “undermines people’s fundamental right to vote,” said Anietie Ewang, HRW’s Nigerian researcher, who called on Nigerian officials to install secure systems that would allow Nigerians to vote safely.
“It is important for the authorities to swiftly restore public confidence in their ability to hold those responsible for electoral violence accountable and ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians,” Ewang said in a statement.
In the capital city of Imo state, Owerri, where violent secessionist groups have repeatedly attacked election authorities in an effort to disrupt elections, a human rights activist told HRW that people want to vote to be a part of the political process, “but this is severely challenged by the security issues which there appears to be little or no commitment to address.”
The activist said there is “a strong sense of fear among voters.”
Nigerians go to the polls February 25 to elect a new president and other politicians.