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Unabated violence in Nigeria gets UN attention, calls for urgent action

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Agnes Callamard condemned police and military ‘brutality’ across the country [Mercy Abang/Al Jazeera]
The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings condemned rising violence across Nigeria and a “lack of accountability” for perpetrators.

While speaking in a news conference in Abuja on Monday, Agnes Callamard said the country needed urgent action to end the “pressure cooker” of violence that has claimed thousands of lives.

She noted at the conference that Nigeria is currently faced with multiple conflicts, fighting attacks from Nomadic herders and farmers to armed group Boko Haram.

In her words: “The overall situation that I encountered in Nigeria gives rise to extreme concern … The warning signs are flashing bright red: increased numbers of attacks and killings over the last five years with a few notable exceptions,” Callamard said at a news conference.

“If ignored its ripple effect will spread throughout the sub-region given the country’s important role in the continent.”

She further condemned police and military “brutality” across the country and a “generalised system of impunity”.
“The time is now to prioritise the rule of law and to make it part and parcel of the Nigerian system,” especially for those living in extreme poverty, she said.

Callamard, who has spent approximately half a month in Nigeria, since August 16, to investigate to enable her to get the scope of violence in the country, assessed measures adopted by the government to tackle the killings.

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According to the UN estimates on Boko Haram attacks in northeast Nigeria, over 27,000 people were said to been killed and estimated two million others displaced.
She said clashes between nomadic herders and farmers in Nigeria’s central states, over dwindling arable land have killed thousands of people and displaced tens of thousands of others.

“Nigeria is a pressure cooker of internal conflict. The absence of accountability is on such a scale that pretending this is not a crisis will be a major mistake,” said Callamard.

“The increased number of people living in absolute poverty, climate change and desertification, and the increased proliferation of weapons, altogether, these are reinforcing a localised system of violence,” she added.

The UN special rapporteur also examined safeguards over the use of the death penalty and laws applied by Islamic courts.
“I have also considered security repression against Shia Muslims, the indigenous people of Biafra, and against Ogoni people,” Callamard said.

She noted there had been key decisions made by courts but added, “these are not being implemented. I am hoping that the government will hear my call and demand that court orders are implemented”.
Nigerian authorities did not immediately respond to Callamard’s comments.

Speaking to Al Jazeera earlier impunity going on in Nigeria, an analyst at SBM Intelligence, Cheta Nwanze, said: “In almost two decades of Boko Haram’s existence, I can’t recall any of the financial backers who have ever been brought to trial … We’ve not had a single high-level conviction of a Boko Haram member.”


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