The Human Rights Watch, HRW, an international non governmental organisation, NGO, on Thursday urged the federal government to prosecute the persons behind the killings in Plateau and Kaduna states since 2010.
A researcher on Nigeria at HRW, Eric Guttschuss, made the call in Abuja at a joint news conference to launch a new report on inter-communal violence in Plateau and Kaduna.
The report catalogued sectarian violence in the two states since 2010 which is estimated to have left more than 3,000 people dead.
“The Federal Government needs to ensure that individuals who have perpetrated or planned incidents of communal violence and cases of mass murder in Plateau and Kaduna states are investigated and prosecuted according to international fair trial standards,” Guttschuss said.
He added: “We are calling on the Inspector-General of Police to conduct an immediate review of all the investigations that have been carried out and related to the communal violence in these two states and determine why the investigations did not go forward.”
Guttschuss said that there may never be an end to the crisis until the political and judicial will to prosecute those who are involved in the killings no matter their religion is mustered.
The HWR researcher advised the inspector general of police to establish a mass crime unit within the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to strengthen the investigation of cases of mass crimes during inter-communal violence.
According to him, the 146-page report examined government’s inability to hold perpetrators of communal violence accountable, even when their identities are known in the affected communities.
He said: “The last local government election held in Plateau state was in November 2008 and there were more than 700 people killed in post-election violence. After the violence, more than 500 people were arrested, no one was prosecuted and no one was held accountable.”
He, however, acknowledged that the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, prosecuted some suspects from the 2010 violence in Plateau state in Federal courts and secured convictions.
“Following the 2010 violence President Jonathan announced that those who have carried out the violence will be held accountable. For the first time in Plateau state’s history, the Federal Attorney general’s office stepped in and prosecuted some of these cases in Federal courts instead of leaving the cases in state courts,” he said.
He added that since then, several state prosecutors in Plateau have secured several convictions for communal violence.
Also speaking, the African director at HRW, Daniel Bekele, said that while the authorities may have forgotten the killings, the communities have not and that in the absence of justice, residents have resorted to violence to avenge their losses.