Amnesty International Accuses Nigeria of Intimidating Journalists, Protesters and Critics
Nigeria has had an intriguing relationship with the global human rights watchdog group, Amnesty International.
Many will recall the accusations and denials that followed Amnesty’s claims in August 2014that the Nigerian military was carrying out extra-judicial killings in Borno state under the guise of fighting terrorism.
The indictment of the Nigerian military did not sit well with the federal government – then led by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, and there was a prolonged exchange of words between government officials and Amnesty representatives.
Previous reports made about the scale of Boko Haram attacks in some towns in the northeast had also been described by the government as outrageous and exaggerated to paint the country in bad light.
Upon assuming office in May 2015, President Muhmmadu Buhari appeared to initiate a friendly rapport with the rights group and promised to review its report accusing the military of human rights violations. Buhari also promised that all top officials indicted in the report would be investigated and punished if found guilty.
More than a year later, not much has been heard about government action concerning the report and it is Buhari’s administration that now faces severe criticism by Amnesty for alleged violation of human rights and repression of the opposition.
In its report published on Wednesday, Amnesty International accuses the Nigerian government led by Buhari of trying to muzzle dissent by arresting and intimidating journalists and protesters.
According to the New York Times, the London-based rights group cites examples of police blocking peaceful protests with references made to protests by the BringBackOurGirls group over the failure to rescue more than 200 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls.
Other protests the group accused the Buhari administration of cracking down on include the Shiite Muslims demanding the release of their long-detained leader and secessionists calling for an independent Biafra in the southeast.
Amnesty also claims to have documented cases of enforced disappearances and killings of pro-Biafra supporters by security forces. It also cites the detention of several journalists critical of government officials.
Amnesty therefore urged the Nigerian government to halt detentions without trial and the excessive use of force.