Nigeria’s presidential and national assembly elections due to take place on 25 February must be free from further violence and intimidation and effective measures must be in place to protect all participants and prevent human rights violations, said Amnesty International.
Political parties, politicians, security forces and interest groups must refrain from condoning, or engaging in, violence or incitement that could deprive people of their human rights.
Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria said:
“The desperation of political actors during election campaigns, expressed recently through cases of incitement, as well as attacks on campaign convoys and individuals in some states, is unacceptable. The failure of the authorities to bring to justice those responsible for deadly violence during previous elections has created an atmosphere of impunity and emboldened others.”
“There is a pattern of gender-based violence, like threatening women and girls with rape designed to intimidate or prevent them voting, that must cease. Nigerian authorities must uphold their human rights obligations under international law and the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) by making sure that advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence has no place in the country.”
There has been a cycle of violence in recent months.
On 28 November 2022 gunmen killed Victoria Chimtex, the leader of the Labour Party in the Kaura local government area of Kaduna state.
In March 2022, Olumo Abolaji, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State was killed after she was kidnapped.
On 19 June 2022 a bus carrying journalists in the campaign convoy of Bola Tinubu, the governing APC presidential candidate in Lagos, was attacked.
On 9 November 2022, a campaign convoy in northeast Maiduguri carrying the presidential candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, was attacked and scores were injured.
In December 2022, the restaurant of the women leader of the Labour Party in Kebbi State was destroyed. In the same month the campaign convoy of Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, a senate candidate for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) was attacked between Okene to Adaviin in central Kogi state, and several people were injured.
On Tuesday 24 January a Labour Party campaign convoy was violently attacked in Katsina, in the north.
The security situation in the southeast of the country has deteriorated as the election approaches.
On January 4 David Uche the chairman of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Ibeme Ward, in the Isiala Mbano area of Imo State, was killed by gunmen. On 14 January, four people were killed when gunmen attacked the home of Ikenga Ugochinyere, a spokesperson for the Coalition of United Political Parties in Imo state, and set his home blaze. Chris Ohizu, the sole administrator of Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo state, was abducted and beheaded. Gunmen also stormed an APC party meeting in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi state leaving two members dead.
“These violent incidents are deeply worrying and may have implications for the general human rights situation before, during and after the elections,” said Osai Ojigho.
“We have received reports of supporters of some politicians violently targeting political opponents. The authorities must stamp out any potential impunity by ensuring that these incidents are investigated and that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice in fair trials.”
The authorities must ensure that journalists, local and international election observers and other stakeholders can carry out their activities safely before, during and after the elections, without fear of violence or intimidation.
Amnesty International will monitor and document the human rights situation to help ensure that perpetrators are held to account, no matter who they are, and that victims are provided with access to justice and effective remedies.
Osai Ojigho said: “There should be no room for human rights violations. The Nigerian authorities, political parties and candidates must publicly condemn any intimidation and any advocacy of hatred and incitement. This is a time for all stakeholders to demonstrate that they embrace human rights and to commit to the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria.”