9 August 2012

Nigeria: Clinton Visits Nigeria Today, Urged to Address Violence, Rights Abuses

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected in Nigeria in continuation of her seven nation Africa tour which earlier took her to Senegal, Uganda, Malawi, South Sudan, South Africa.

Though details of her Nigeria trip were not made available at press time yesterday, Foreign Ministry official said the US top diplomat is expected to hold discussions on strengthening ties between Nigeria and the US.

Clinton is due to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan today in a visit that comes with Nigeria facing increasing insurgency by the Boko Haram militant group which appears intractable for the government, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

The US government has not declared the Boko Haram a terrorist group, but Clinton's visit is expected to elicit a broad-based direction of her home government on the issue, diplomatic sources said.

The Human Rights Watch also said yesterday that Clinton should urge Nigeria to address violence by Boko Haram as well as abuses by the country's security forces.

"Nigeria is facing a surge of violence and lawlessness that has blighted the lives of thousands of Nigerians," Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

"Nigeria's leaders need to confront this violence, whether committed by Boko Haram or the country's security forces."

The US-based group said attacks by Boko Haram have left more than 1,400 people dead in northern and central Nigeria since 2010. Human Rights Watch also pointed out that security forces have been accused of major abuses which have exacerbated the crisis in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer.

"Security agents have rounded up hundreds of people and routinely detained them incommunicado without charge or trial," its statement said.

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