- No part of the country is safe now
- Armed men are rampaging across the country
- Failure to comply with accountability leads to impunity
- At 60, Amnesty International is ready to do more in Nigeria
The alarming escalation of attacks, ransom kidnappings and frequent murders across Nigeria have left people feeling more unsafe. This shows that the Nigerian authorities have failed to protect lives and property, Amnesty International said for the 60th time today Anniversary of the organization.
Amnesty International began its work on Nigeria on June 1, 1967 with an intervention against the civil war in Nigeria, which ended in 1970. Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka was declared a prisoner of conscience because he was detained solely for his dissenting opinions. Between 1968 and 1969, the annual report documented and expressed its concern about the abolition of human rights in the context of the civil war.
In terms of human rights in Nigeria, not much has changed since 1967 and the concerns remain evident over human rights, the failure of the authorities to protect the people, the threats to human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, the repression dissenting votes and a lack of accountability.
Osai Ojigho Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“The incessant murders and the amazing failure of the authorities to stop them and bring alleged perpetrators to justice have been and remain a threat to the right to life in Nigeria. From the days of harsh military rule to the years of civil rule and to this day, human rights violations by state actors and abuses by non-state actors continue to be of concern, ”said Osai Ojigho
On April 10, 1978, six Nigerian students were killed and many imprisoned while protesting the staggering increase in tuition fees. From then on, Nigerian youth continued to be subjected to violent raids for exercising the right to peaceful assembly. From the pro-democracy protests of June 12, 1993 to the Nigerian protest of 2012 to the #EndSARS protest of 2020, the Nigerian authorities continue to use force to suppress peaceful protests.
While Nigerians face violations or policies that undermine people’s rights, they always resort to protest – and other peaceful means to seek change. However, crackdown on protests remains a major area of human rights violations. Protest is not a crime and Nigerians must be able to gather peacefully and express themselves without fear.
“We are concerned that civil space is shrinking and the fear of violence from security forces and sponsored thugs undermines the right to peaceful protest and has profound implications for other human rights,” said Osai Ojigho
The use of excessive force by the police remains an unsolved human rights problem. Amnesty International published reports on the same subject in 2004, 2009, 2016 and 2020. Documentation of the increasing violations of human rights by the Nigerian police. All claims to reform the police were found to be ineffective. Despite the systematic human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), no one was held accountable.
Rape of women and girls by police and security forces, as well as in their homes and communities, is widespread in Nigeria. However, the government is violating its constitutional and international human rights obligations to ensure that victims have access to justice: suspected perpetrators invariably escape justice, and women and girls who have been raped are denied any form of redress for the serious crimes against them.
Since the 1960s, the work of Amnesty International Nigeria has shown that there has been some success in some areas such as the Child Rights Act and the Anti-Torture Act, but alleged perpetrators remain unpunished for human rights abuses. Attacks by Boko Haram insurgents continue to pose a threat to life as they now intensify attacks in Borno state and beyond. Failure to address military violations in the fight against Boko Haram has denied hope of justice for hundreds of victims.
Nigeria has repeatedly failed to bring alleged perpetrators to justice. In most cases, victims of human rights violations do not get fair. Failure to bring violations to justice damages Nigeria’s image. The Nigerian law enforcement and judicial system must have the power to ensure justice.
Amnesty International urges the Nigerian authorities at all levels to invest in people’s wellbeing and prioritize access to education, health care and other basic public services. Managers need to be accountable to people and also listen to what they say.
“At 60, Amnesty International is committed to doing more to protect and promote human rights. The organization will expand its work in Nigeria to ensure that alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice and that victims have access to effective legal remedies. The organization will continue to insist that the authorities respect the rights of all. People deserve to live in dignity and have the right to due process. Our research from 1967 shows a pattern of disregard for human rights. That has to change, ”said Osai.