Amnesty International Calls on Nigeria to End Political Violence on Eve of Polling Saturday

Press Release
April 1, 2011

Amnesty International Calls on Nigeria to End Political Violence on Eve of Polling Saturday

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Friday, April 1, 2011

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

Amnesty International Calls on Nigeria to End Political Violence on Eve of Polling Saturday

Ahead of National Polling, At Least 20 People Have Died in Political Attacks

(London) – Amnesty International today urged Nigerian political candidates to rein in their supporters to put a stop to continuing violence on the eve of national polls. At least 20 people have died in political attacks and clashes throughout the country in the past two weeks and others have been injured and scores of cars and buildings burned.

“Politicians must demonstrate that they are serious about putting an end to the clashes between supporters.” said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa.  “The violence is causing immense damage to the country and its institutions.  Politicians need to immediately take responsibility for their actions and rein in their supporters before the elections dissolve into chaos.”

Hondora said the organization has received consistent reports that politicians, both candidates and those in office, instigate political violence, despite their statements to the contrary.

Nigeria’s national parliamentary, presidential and state elections will all be taking place between Saturday and April 16.

In some of the worst violence so far, armed clashes and rioting by supporters of rival political parties killed at least six people on March 22 in the southern state of Akwa Ibom.

The government is reported to have issued ‘shoot on sight’ orders, which are contrary to Nigerian law.  

“The call for security forces to use this level of force is a deeply troubling sign, a situation made worse by the irresponsible behaviour of political parties,” said Hondora.

The police in Akwa Ibom state have carried out mass arrests, including of bystanders, according to local human rights groups.  An opposition leader has been charged with treason, which carries a death sentence.

Other violent clashes have taken place throughout the country, including in southwestern Ekiti State, Jigawa State and Bauchi State in the North, and Bayelsa State on the southern coast.  

In Ogoniland in southern Rivers State, dozens of opposition members and supporters were detained and charged with armed robbery and kidnapping.

Amnesty International is urging the government to carry out an independent, impartial and thorough judicial investigation into human rights abuses that occurred during the election, and bring to justice those responsible.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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