As Nigerians head to the polls, Amnesty International (AI) has charged the Nigerian authorities to protect people from violence and ensure full respect for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association before, during and after the country’s upcoming general election, scheduled for 16 February and 2 March 2019.
According to an online publication by the number one human rights group obtained by THE SUMMIT, Amnesty International pressed that, Authorities must put in place measures to ensure politicians and their supporters do not infringe on human rights.
AI noted that, there have been several instances of violence at election campaign rallies in some states in recent months, including the deaths of four people in Kano state in clashes between rival political supporters in December 2018.
“The election-related violence in states such as Kano, Kwara, Kogi, Rivers, Taraba and Bayelsa is deeply troubling and, if not urgently addressed, will undermine respect for human rights throughout the election period,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“Amnesty International has received reports of supporters of some politicians violently targeting political opponents, real or perceived. The authorities must stamp out any potential impunity by ensuring these incidents are investigated and that those suspected to be responsible are brought to justice.”
In other pre-election violence, one person was killed and many were injured when an All Progressives Congress (APC) rally in Sagbama, Bayelsa state turned violent on 3 February.
Previously, a 12-hour curfew was imposed in Wukari, Taraba state last month following violent clashes between supporters of the APC and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the two main political parties.
“Authorities must put in place measures to ensure politicians and their supporters do not infringe on human rights. They must make clear that there is zero-tolerance for human rights violations and that anyone suspected of wrongdoing will be brought to justice,” said Osai Ojigho.
Recently, a PDP politician in Kaduna was caught on video asking his supporters to attack anyone who voted for a different political party in a volatile southern part of the state.
“The authorities must fully investigate all allegations of incitement to violence and other human rights abuses before, during and after the elections and ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justice,” said Osai Ojigho.
“Political parties and candidates must publicly condemn any advocacy of hatred or incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.
“The authorities must also ensure that international and national civil society groups and agencies that will monitor the elections are able to do so in safety.”