Encourage Jonathan to address violence in Nigeria, Clinton urgedAmerican Politics, Latest Politics Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
AN international human rights group, the Human Rights Watch, on Wednesday, called on the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to encourage President Goodluck Jonathan to address the increasingly deadly violence in Northern and Central parts of the country during her proposed visit to Nigeria.
The group sent the message to Clinton in a letter dated August 7, 2012, based on the wide scale violence initiated by the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram.
Human Rights Watch stated that Clinton, who is scheduled to meet with Jonathan in Abuja today, should also raise issues of security force abuses, corruption, and lack of accountability.
The group also urged Clinton to ensure that civilians at risk of further attacks in Northern and Central Nigeria were protected.
She was also urged to implore President Jonathan to bring to justice without delay those responsible for the violence and to also rein in abusive police and soldiers and investigate and prosecute without delay those implicated in human rights abuses.
Other demands by the group included to end divisive state and local government policies that discriminated against “non-indigenes,” people who could not trace their ancestry to what was said to be the original inhabitants of an area, give a public account of the status and reasons for delays in the corruption cases against senior political figures and improve the independence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by passing legislation to provide greater security of tenure for the commission’s chairperson.
“Nigeria is facing a surge of violence and lawlessness that has blighted the lives of thousands of Nigerians. Nigeria’s leaders need to confront this violence, whether committed by Boko Haram or the country’s security forces,” Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, stated.
Attacks by Boko Haram have left more than 1,400 people dead in Northern and Central Nigeria since 2010.
The armed group had targeted police and other government security agents, Christians and churches and Muslims who were critical of the group or perceived as collaborating with the government, Human Rights Watch said.
The group further stated that security agents had rounded up hundreds of people and routinely detained them incommunicado without been charged or tried.
Security forces had also been implicated in extra-judicial killings of Boko Haram suspects and other detention-related abuses.
The group claimed it was attacking the police in retaliation for security force abuses.
“In Nigeria’s volatile “middle-belt” region, particularly in Kaduna and Plateau states, inter-communal violence has resulted in the deaths of several thousand people – both Muslims and Christians – in the past four years. Mobs have hacked to death many of their victims based simply on their ethnic or religious identity, but rarely has anyone been prosecuted for these massacres.
“Despite Nigeria’s tremendous oil wealth, endemic government corruption and poor governance have robbed many Nigerians of their rights to health and education.
“These problems are most acute in the North – the country’s poorest region – where widespread poverty and unemployment, sustained by corruption, and state-sponsored abuses have created an environment in which militant groups thrive.
“At their heart, impunity and corruption are human rights problems and they need to be at the top of Nigeria’s policy agenda,” Bekele said. “Clinton should use her visit to help put them there,” he added.
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