9 August 2012

Nigeria: HRW Tasks Clinton On Nigeria's Insecurity

Human Rights Watch, an international rights group, Wednesday tasked United States Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, to persuade President Goodluck Jonathan to address increasing spate of violence in the North and Abuja as she arrives Nigeria Thursday.

The group, in a letter addressed to Clinton and made available to THISDAY, urged Clinton, who is scheduled to hold a meeting with Jonathan today, to explore raging issues in the country such as insecurity, human rights abuses, corruption and lack of accountability.

According to the letter signed by Africa's Director of Human Rights Watch, Daniel Bekele, Nigeria is facing a high degree of violence and lawlessness, which it said had "blighted the lives of thousands of Nigerians."

Bekele tasked Clinton to let Nigerian leaders know that they are left with no option but "to confront this violence, whether committed by Boko Haram or the country's security forces."

He added that "attacks by Boko Haram have left more than 1,400 people dead in Northern and Central Nigeria since 2010. The armed group has targeted police and other government security agents, Christians and churches and Muslims who are critical of the group or perceived as collaborating with the government. Security agents have rounded up hundreds of people and routinely detained them incommunicado without charge or trial."

The group also urged Clinton to let Jonathan know that civilians who are at the risk of further attacks in Northern and Central Nigeria should be protected adding that the country's leadership should end divisive state and local government policies which discriminate against non-indigenes and as well give public account of the status and reasons for delays in corruption cases against senior political figures.

He also emphasised the need to guarantee the independence of anti-graft agencies by passing legislation to provide greater security of tenure for the commission's chairperson. "Clinton should use her visit to help put them there," Bekele pleaded.

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