Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

16 October 2013

Nigeria Prison Deaths - What Happens When the Checks and Balances Fail

analysis

According to a new Amnesty International report, nearly a thousand prisoners died this year in just two prisons administered by Nigeria's notoriously brutal armed forces. Regardless of what these prisoners may or may not have done, this is a horrific violation of human rights.

That it comes as no surprise is a damning indictment of Nigeria's leadership. South Africa, take note: this is what happens when the police and the army are allowed to take justice into their own hands.

The Nigerian military is in the middle of a major offensive against Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group that's been causing havoc across northern Nigeria. Boko Haram's extremely violent tactics, often targeting civilians, have claimed hundreds of lives of the past few years.

The group, which demands the overthrow of the Nigerian government and the implementation of an Islamic state based on Sharia law, is an existential threat to Nigeria as we know it today.

To combat the violence, Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has declared emergency law in the affected areas and sent in the troops. Curfews are in place, and at one point all mobile phones were banned and cellular towers disabled to cripple Boko Haram...

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