The 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices has indicated the Nigerian government of serious abuse and extrajudicial killings, among other infractions.
The report released by the US Department of State and made available to reporters on Wednesday, however, noted that the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2019 was generally credible “despite logistical challenges, localised violence, and some irregularities.”
The report noted that insurgency in the Northeast by the militant terrorist groups Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa (ISIS-WA) continued and that the groups conducted numerous attacks on government and civilian targets, resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries, widespread destruction, the internal displacement of more than two million persons, and external displacement of an estimated 243,875 Nigerian refugees to neighbouring countries as of September 30.
The report specifically listed significant human rights issues by state and non-state actors as unlawful and arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detention. It also frowned at harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; unlawful infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; criminal libel; violence against and unjustified arrests of journalists; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association in particular for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons and religious minorities; widespread and pervasive corruption; crimes involving violence targeting LGBTI persons; criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and forced and bonded labor.
The report by the US Department of State observed that “government took some steps to investigate alleged abuses but there were few public reports of prosecutions of officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government.”
It noted that Impunity remained widespread at all levels of government, just as no charges were filed in some of the significant allegations of human rights violations by security forces and cases of police or military extortion or other abuse of power.
Worthy of positive mention, according to the report, are the efforts of the Borno State government, which provided financial and in-kind resources to the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a nongovernmental self-defence militia that at times coordinated with the military.
The report cited “human rights organisations and press reporting” alleging that the CJTF committed human rights abuses.
“The government took few steps to investigate or punish CJTF members who committed human rights abuses, including past recruitment and use of child soldiers.”
According to the report, “Boko Haram recruited and forcefully conscripted child soldiers and carried out scores of person-borne improvised explosive device (IED) attacks–many by young women and girls forced into doing so–and other attacks on population centers in the Northeast and in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
“Abductions by Boko Haram and ISIS-WA continued. Both groups subjected many women and girls to sexual and gender-based violence, including forced marriages, sexual slavery, and rape. The government investigated attacks by Boko Haram and ISIS-WA and took steps to prosecute their members, although the majority of suspects were held in military custody without charge.”