Human Rights Watch has said the February 2019 election that brought President Muhammadu Buhari back into office for a second term was marred by violence.
The international rights group called on the president to take concrete steps to address the widespread political violence and probe human rights abuses by the police and soldiers.Election report released by the organisation noted that the election period was riddled by persistent attacks by Boko Haram terrorists in the Northeast, increased communal violence between herdsmen and farmers spreading southwards from Northcentral states, and uptick in banditry, kidnapping and killings in Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara states.
It maintained that security forces failed to respond effectively to threats to lives and security.According to Nigeria's researcher at Human Rights Watch, Anietie Ewang, lack of meaningful progress in addressing the prevalent political violence and accountability for rights abuses marked Buhari's first term in office."He should put these issues at the front and centre of his second term agenda, and urgently take concrete steps to improve respect for human rights.
"Nigerian voters have entrusted him with another opportunity to address the nation's serious human rights problems, including political violence. He should start by reforming the security forces to ensure strict compliance with human rights standards, and prompt investigation and prosecution of those credibly implicated in abuses," Ewang added.
The report further revealed that the last general election contributed to the general insecurity across the country."The political violence reported in many states was in contrast to the relatively peaceful 2015 elections that brought Buhari into his first term in office. According to a report by SBM Intelligence, which monitors socio-political and economic developments in Nigeria, 626 people were killed during the 2019 election cycle, starting with campaigns in 2018.
"Banditry and the recurring cycles of deadly violence between herdsmen and farmers appear to have taken the lives of thousands. According to civil society reports, over 3,641 people have died from deadly clashes between herdsmen and farmers since 2015, and at least 262 people have been killed by bandits since the beginning of 2019 in Zamfara State alone."
The government deployed 1,000 troops to the state in response, but few of those responsible for the violence have been arrested or held to account."