News - Politics & Policy - April 1, 2021

Over 2m people displaced by insurgency in 2020, says US govt. human rights report on Nigeria

The latest human rights report by the US government on Nigeria for 2020 says more than two million people were displaced and over 300,000 Nigerian were made to become refugees to neighbouring countries, amid growing ravages of insurgency in the Northeast by militant terrorist groups during the year.
In the report was titled: “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria” published by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour on Wednesday in Abuja.
The publication said the insurgency in by the militant terrorist groups, including Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa continued during the year, while security operatives committed various human rights abuses.
“Significant human rights abuses included: unlawful and arbitrary killings by both government and non-state actors; forced disappearances by the government, terrorists, and criminal groups; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government and terrorist groups; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention by government and non-state actors; political prisoners; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious abuses in an internal conflict, including killing and torture of civilians; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including the existence of criminal libel laws; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, in particular for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons; severe restrictions on religious freedom; serious acts of corruption; trafficking in persons; inadequate investigation and accountability for violence against women; the existence or use of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and the worst forms of child labour,” the report said.
On the protest by Nigerian youths against the abusive practices by the Police Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the report aid opinions remain divided on the accurate information about what happened and the casualties.
“Accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end. Amnesty International reported 10 persons died during the event, but the government disputed Amnesty’s report, and no other organization was able to verify the claim.
“The government reported two deaths connected to the event. One body from the toll gate showed signs of blunt force trauma. A second body from another location in Lagos State had bullet wounds.
“The government acknowledged that soldiers armed with live ammunition were present at the Lekki Toll Gate. At year’s end, the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution continued to hear testimony and investigate the shooting at Lekki Toll Gate.
“There were no reports of the federal government further investigating or publicly holding individuals accountable for the Nigerian Army’s 2015 killing and subsequent mass burial of 347 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and other civilians. There was also no evidence that any members of the armed forces were held accountable for clashes in Abuja with IMN protesters in October and December 2018 that reportedly killed at least 42 persons.
“In August a military court-martial convicted a soldier and sentenced him to 55 years in prison after he committed a homicide while deployed in Zamfara State.
“There were reports of arbitrary and unlawful killings related to internal conflicts in the Northeast and other areas. Criminal gangs also killed numerous persons during the year,” the report said.
The report noted the continued reign of impunity in the polity, saying this has remained a significant problem in the security forces, including in the police, military, and the Department of State Services (DSS).
“The DSS, police and military reported to civilian authorities, but periodically acted outside civilian control. The government regularly utilized disciplinary boards and mechanisms to investigate security force members and hold them accountable for crimes committed on duty, but the results of these accountability mechanisms were not always made public.
“Police remained susceptible to corruption, faced allegations of human rights abuses, and operated with widespread impunity in the apprehension, illegal detention, and torture of suspects,” the report said.
READ FULL REPORT HERE

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