SUN Special Rapporteur: Nigeria Is A Pressure Cooker Of Internal Conflict

Map of Nigeria
Map of Nigeria

By Akanimo Sampson

After a 12-day visit to Nigeria, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Agnes Callamard, has said that the country under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch is a “pressure cooker of internal conflict.’’

Callamard told a news conference in Abuja, the country’s capital where she presented her preliminary findings that, “the overall situation I have found is one of extreme concern’’, pointing out that Nigeria’s multiple security problems have created a crisis that requires urgent attention and could lead to instability in other African countries if it is not addressed.

Security forces in Africa’s most populous country are trying to tackle a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the northeast, banditry in the North-West and bloody clashes between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities over dwindling arable land in central states.

Callamard said the police and military had shown an excessive use of lethal force across the West African country which, combined with a lack of effective investigations and meaningful prosecution, caused a lack of accountability.

She said the country required changes in the judiciary, police and military to stop people resorting to violence in the absence of justice.

According to her, “the lack of accountability is on such a scale that pretending this is nothing short of a crisis will be a major mistake. If ignored its ripple effect will spread in the sub-region given the country’s important role in the continent.’’

Reuters reports that spokespersons for the ministries of justice, military and police did not respond to its request for comment on Callamard’s findings.

The Islamist insurgency waged by Boko Haram began in North-East Nigeria in 2009 but has spread to parts of neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger where members of the group and militants allied to Islamic State carry out attacks.

The rapporteur also condemned what she said was the “arbitrary deprivation of life’’ and the excessive use of lethal force in the case of processions held by banned Shi’ite Muslim group, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).

Callamard said the move to ban the group appeared be based on what the authorities thought IMN could become rather than its actions. She said she had not been presented with any evidence to suggest the group was weaponised and posed a threat to the country.