An international human rights group, the Human Rights Watch (HRW), has called on the United States secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to encourage President Goodluck Jonathan to address the security challenges arising from the activities of the Boko Haram across the country during her proposed visit to Nigeria.
The group sent this plea to Clinton in a letter dated August 7, 2012, based on the wide-scale violence initiated by the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram.
HRW 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 with President Jonathan.
In the letter by the Africa director of HRW Daniel Bekele, the group also urged Clinton to ensure that civilians at the risk of further attacks in northern and central Nigeria are protected, and bring to justice without delay those responsible for the violence and also rein in abusive police and soldiers, and investigate and prosecute without delay those implicated in human rights abuses.
Other demands by the group include ending divisive state and local government policies that discriminate against "non-indigenes," people who cannot trace their ancestry to what are 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."
The group further stated that security agents have rounded up hundreds of people and routinely detained them incommunicado without charge or trial. Security forces have also been implicated in extrajudicial killings of Boko Haram suspects and other detention-related abuses. The group claims it is attacking the police in retaliation for security force abuses.
The HRW said: "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.
Okene killings wicked, premeditated - Kumuyi
The general superintendent of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Pastor William Kumuyi, has expressed deep sadness and sorrow over the attack on Monday night on one of the branches of the church located in Otite, near Okene, Kogi State.
The church founder, who broke his silence yesterday, said: "It is hard to reconcile that peace-loving people, sitting in their church, and listening to Bible Study were gunned down in cold blood by people they had done nothing to provoke."
The attack occurred on Monday night while the congregation was listening to the Monday Bible Study taught by Pastor Kumuyi himself and streamed by satellite to all the church's locations in every part of the world.
But Kumuyi has described the attack as "not only wicked, but utterly premeditated" and urged the government to come to terms with the fact that a large swathe of people are being sent to the grave early, as law enforcement agents seem unable to provide the required protection for all law-abiding citizens.
The violence, he said, has implications for the progress, development and wellbeing of the nation.
Kumuyi, who noted that the killings and destructions have been going on particularly in the northern part of the country for too long, lamented that each time they occurred the usual condemnations are made, but thereafter the people are left without any assurance of their security and safety.
Tambuwal Condemns Kogi killings
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has condemned the killing of innocent worshippers at the Deeper Life Bible Church as well as some security agents in Okene LGA of Kogi State, describing the incidents as senseless acts whose perpetrators must be brought to justice.
In a statement issued by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal said what is happening in Kogi State and other parts of the country at the moment is not only worrisome but requires that all men of goodwill join hands to see to the end of these brazen acts of terror visited on our communities.
We have an obligation to come together and support our security agencies in order for them to tackle the problem, he said.
While reiterating the pledge of the House of Representatives to do everything within its power to ensure a more secured nation, Tambuwal tasked all groups with any grievance against the state or its citizens to embrace the offer of dialogue made by the federal government.
3 suspects arrested over Okene massacre
In a related development, three people have been apprehended in connection with the Okene massacre of members of the Deeper Life Church in the central axis of Kogi State on Monday night and Tuesday evening.
The state commissioner of police, Kogi State command, Mr. Muhammadu Katsina, disclosed this while parading the suspects of the twin attacks, including a woman, at a media briefing yesterday in Lokoja.
He disclosed that the suspects were picked up, by his men, in conjunction with men of Edo State Police command, at Ibillo in Edo State where they went to receive treatment after the dreaded attacks on Deeper Life Church and Okene Central Mosque.
He added that his men were able to locate their hideout, where they had a gun duel with the police. He stated that other members of the gang fled.
The commissioner further explained that they located the base of the gang following intelligence report, adding that efforts were on to get other members of the gang.
He stressed that due to the unconducive atmosphere in Okene, the gang took their injured colleagues to a hospital in Ibillo for treatment where they were arrested.
The police boss pointed out that the woman was an accomplice who assisted the gang in moving their injured colleagues out of Okene, after they had received injuries during an encounter that claimed the lives of two soldiers.
He said they have arrested many others, including politicians, over the twin attacks, adding however that he couldn't give their names yet.
Stressing that full investigation into the two incidents had already commenced, Katsina stated further that more arrests were likely.
He equally warned hospitals and traditional medicine practitioners against treating any individual with bullet wound, even as he called on landlords and members of the public to report to security agents any suspicious and strange movement.
He maintained that they would enforce the curfew imposed in Okene and its environs, and restriction of commercial motorcycle operators from 6pm to 6am, warning that whoever violates the law would not be spared.
Gunmen kill 2 policemen in Bauchi
Two policemen in Bauchi State were yesterday shot dead by unknown gunmen.
The two policemen were said to have been attacked in the morning at a patrol centre in Gubi village along Ningi/Kano road, in the state.
Narrating the event, an eyewitness revealed that the security agents attacked were mobile policemen and were shot on the head.
The commissioner of police, Bauchi State command, Mr. Muhammad Ladan, confirmed the incident, saying the two policemen were rushed to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), Bauchi, where they died.
Ladan explained that the matter was currently being investigated with a view to unraveling the culprits and urged the general public to complement the effort of the security agencies by reporting any suspicious movements.
Meanwhile, a team of well-armed police personnel have barricaded the attacked patrol centre.
LEADERSHIP also gathered that the incident happened barely two weeks after two police inspectors and a corporal were killedat another patrol post along Gombe road in the state capital.
Three civilians at Unguwar Karofi in the Bauchi metropolis were also murdered in cold blood on Tuesday night when 'SARA SUKA' thugs raided the place.
Bomb attack on Sokoto PDP secretariat foiled
Barely 48 hours after gunmen attacked Shagari town in Sokoto, the police yesterday, defused bomb planted along the secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sokoto chapter, along Diplomat area of the state, which is Christian dominated.
Diplomat is mostly populated by Christians and Igbos communities, but dominated by mostly non-natives of Sokoto State.
Eyewitness said that the suspect drove his motorbike to the area and, while making effort to drop the polythene bag containing the substance, his action attracted the attention of passersby who raised the alarm.
The witness added that, as soon as the people screamed, the bomber quickly drove away which led to commotion and confusion. But the intervention of the police two hours after seemed to have saved many lives.
The vice chairman of the state PDP, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe, who was at the party office yesterday when incident occurred, confirmed that the anti-bomb squad defused the bomb. According to him, the substance was still with the police for further examination. Describing the incident as unfortunate, he said, "Only prayer would bring peace back to our amiable state."
It was gathered that the substance was taken to Abuja for further examination. The police PRO of the command, ASP Sani Salisu, was not willing to comment on the situation.