The United States Government, has said that despite steps taken by the Nigerian Government to address human rights abuses in the country, impunity remained a significant problem in the country.
The United States Government stated this in the executive summary of its 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, with emphasis on Nigeria.
The United States noted that in February 2019, Nigerians re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to a second four-year term.
The United States added that most independent observers during the election agreed that the election that produced President Buhari for a second term in office was credible despite logistical challenges, localised violence, and some irregularities.
The United States also noted that the Nigeria Police Force is the primary law enforcement agency, along with other federal organisations, saying that the Department of State Services is responsible for internal security and reports to the president through the national security adviser.
According to the United States, “Nigerian Armed Forces are responsible for external security, but also have domestic security responsibilities. Consistent with the constitution, the government continued to turn to the armed forces to address internal security concerns due to insufficient capacity and staffing of domestic law enforcement agencies. There were reports that members of the security forces committed human rights abuses. Civilian authorities did not always maintain effective control over the security services.
“The insurgency in the Northeast by the militant terrorist groups, Boko Haram, and the Islamic State in West Africa continued. 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 the external displacement of somewhat more than an estimated 300,000 Nigerian refugees to neighboring countries as of December 14.
“Significant human rights abuses included: unlawful and arbitrary killings by both government and non-state actors; forced disappearances by the government, terrorists, and criminal groups; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government and terrorist groups; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention by government and non-state actors; political prisoners; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious abuses in an internal conflict, including killing and torture of civilians; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including the existence of criminal libel laws; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, in particular for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons; severe restrictions on religious freedom; serious acts of corruption; trafficking in persons; inadequate investigation and accountability for violence against women; the existence or use of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and the worst forms of child labor.
“The government took some steps to investigate alleged abuses by police, including the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and military forces, but impunity remained a significant problem. There were reports of further progress in formally separating and reintegrating child soldiers previously associated with the Civilian Joint Task Force, a non-governmental self-defense militia, which received limited state government funding,” the United States said in the report.
The United States further said Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa, continued attacks on civilians, military, and police.
It added that Boko Haram even recruited and forcefully conscripted child soldiers; and carried out scores of person-borne improvised explosive device attacks, many by coerced young women and girls and other attacks on population centres in the Northeast and in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
“Abductions by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa 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 the Islamic State in West Africa and took steps to prosecute their members,” the United States also said.