US 'must urge Nigeria to address violence'

2012-08-08 16:05
Hillary Clinton (AP)

Hillary Clinton (AP)

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Lagos - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should urge Nigeria to address violence by militant Islamist group Boko Haram as well as abuses by the country's security forces, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

Clinton is due to visit Nigeria and meet with President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday as part of her African tour. The visit comes with Nigeria facing a worsening insurgency by Boko Haram that has left hundreds dead.

"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 rights 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.

Widespread poverty and unemployment

"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."

Human Rights Watch said it had sent a letter to Clinton discussing the issues.

It also raised concerns over Nigeria's inability to stop deadly clashes between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups in the country's centre as well as its failure to curb deeply rooted corruption.

The country's 160 million population includes some 250 ethnic groups and is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

"Despite Nigeria's tremendous oil wealth, endemic government corruption and poor governance have robbed many Nigerians of their rights to health and education," the group said.

"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."

Read more on:    boko haram  |  human rights watch  |  goodluck jonathan  |  hillary clinton  |  nigeria  |  west africa
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