Nigeria must stop unlawful arrests, detentions: Amnesty

iStock
iStock

International on Thursday accused Nigeria's government of carrying out unlawful arrests and practicing "enforced disappearance" - detention without trial - to suppress dissent.

"The Nigerian government has used enforced disappearance as a longstanding tactic to silence critics and instil fear in civilian populations," the rights watchdog said.

It said some detainees had been held incommunicado for up to nine years or more, without access to family or lawyers, and others have continued to languish in prisons despite court orders for their release.

Amnesty cited the case of journalist Abiri Jones, who it said had been detained by the Directorate of Secret Services (DSS) for two years without access to family or lawyers.

"At the beginning, the government denied detaining him, only to later release him following pressure from civil society organisations. It is unacceptable that many families are going through the same turmoil Abiri's family went through," said Osai Ojigho, head of Amnesty's Nigeria section.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

The rights group said people suspected of links to the Boko Haram jihadist group, Niger delta oil rebels and pro-Biafran activists had suffered a similar fate.

Amnesty asked the government to account for some 600 Shiite members of a pro-Iranian group called the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), allegedly held since deadly clashes with the military in December 2015.

"We call on the Nigerian government, as a matter of urgency, to end unlawful arrests and incommunicado detentions," Ojigho said.

"Enforced disappearance is an instrument of intimidation that grossly violates human rights. It is unacceptable and must stop."

On Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari drew the flak of opposition, civil society groups and lawyers for remarks on the rule of law.

Buhari, a former military dictator in the 1980s but who was elected in 2015 and is seeking re-election in February, said the "rule of law must be subject to the supremacy of the nation's security and national interest."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Until the matric exams are over, my family is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Self-isolating to ensure we don't miss any exams
13% - 137 votes
Following Covid-19 safety protocols, but still going out like normal
54% - 591 votes
Business as usual, we're not worried about the virus
34% - 367 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
16.27
(+0.51)
ZAR/GBP
21.08
(+0.42)
ZAR/EUR
18.95
(+0.86)
ZAR/AUD
11.44
(+0.72)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.72)
Gold
1878.17
(+0.53)
Silver
23.63
(+1.51)
Platinum
845.00
(-0.35)
Brent Crude
38.07
(-3.48)
Palladium
2204.00
(+0.65)
All Share
51684.70
(-0.41)
Top 40
47472.92
(-0.22)
Financial 15
9459.76
(-3.04)
Industrial 25
73405.64
(+1.00)
Resource 10
47317.79
(-1.06)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo