Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said the rising insecurity in Nigeria could undermine citizens’ right to vote in the country’s 2023 elections.
Development Diaries reports that there have been security threats from multiple groups across Nigeria, including violent gangs in the northwest and groups in southeastern Nigeria who have been trying to undermine the elections.
HRW, in a statement, warned that the failure of the Nigerian authorities to address accountability for past elections-related abuses across the country threaten the safe conduct of the upcoming general election.
It called on the Nigerian government to show that it is capable of handling the security threats in order to restore public confidence.
‘It is important for the authorities to swiftly restore public confidence in their ability to hold those responsible for electoral violence accountable and ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians’, HRW Researcher, Anietie Ewang, said.
The organisation noted that Nigeria’s elections have historically been fraught with violence and other abuses, citing the 2019 election as one that was marred by violence from security forces, including the army and thugs acting on behalf of politicians.
It is understood that under international human rights law, federal and local officials are required to take all reasonable steps to create and maintain an environment in which election officials, journalists, and civil society can operate free from violence and intimidation.
‘Despite repeated calls to the Nigerian authorities to ensure justice and accountability for election-related violence, Human Rights Watch has found that there has been little progress’, the statement read.
‘A committee set up by the Nigerian army to investigate allegations of violence and killings against officers during the elections was given two weeks in March 2019 to produce its findings. Four years later, the authorities have provided no information on the committee’s work, findings, or recommendations’.
HRW called on security operatives in the country to promptly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute offences, including violence and threats against candidates, voters, and election officials.
Photo source: INEC