Nigerian leaders urged to halt spiraling sectarian violence

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Balogun market in the Central Business District of Lagos, Nigeria

The on-going sectarian violence aimed at civilians in Nigeria could constitute crimes against humanity, according to the UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay.

Ms Pillay is appealing to political and religious leaders in Nigeria to speak out against the violence.

 The High Commissioner said the violence, carried out by the Boko Haram sect and other groups was a threat to religious tolerance, a central pillar of Nigeria's unity. Rupert Colville is the spokesperson for the UN Office for Human Rights.

“The authorities obviously have to act very firmly to deal with a group like Boko Haram and other people carrying out violent acts. But if the security forces don’t respect human rights in the process, or use excessive force, they may just make it worse. They may stoke resentments among particular  local population where they are carrying out operation, and that's the last thing Nigeria needs rights now. It's a very difficult position for the authorities and the government. You clearly need firm action, you are dealing with very dangerous armed people, very high tensions, very explosive situation, but if the police or other security forces overreact or use unnecessary force they could simply make it worse.”

The UN Office for Human Rights estimates that over 1,000 people have been killed in Nigeria over the past three years following the sectarian violence unleashed by a series of attacks by the Boko Haram group.

Duration 40″

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December 2017
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