The United States government has come down hard on President Muhammadu Buhari, saying he is engaging in dictatorial tendencies.
A detailed scathing attack on the Nigerian government says the president is using the Department of State Security, the military and police to arrest, hound and detain political opponents without trial, a situation it said is political persecution.
Recalled the UK Telegraph few days ago accused Buhari of deliberately diverting almost £3bn in aide from the United Kingdom to arrest, hound and persecute political opponents.
This latest attack, which was very detailed with statistics, would indeed cause further unease in the Nigerian government circle and dent diplomatic relations between the two countries.
It is also coming at a time Buhari is in China where he accepted direct trading with Nigeria to allow business men and women from Nigeria trade on the Chinese yuan.
The nauseating report specifically accused the government of injustice, brutality and inflicting pain on poor Nigerians.
The report, released by the United States Department of States, specifically accused the Nigerian Police, DSS and the military of gross abuse of power which include citizens brutality, arbitrary detention, bribery among other scandals.
It said the security agencies operate gestapo-like as if they were above the law.
A judge last month accused the EFCC of acting as if it is above the law. Buhari has since taken over power assumed a pseudo-judicial role and has consistently stated on live televisions home and abroad of not granting bail to accused persons under arrest. Bails granted have been denied and the DSS and the Police have toed the President’s line by denying them bail.
In a statistics-laden revelation, it said 69% of persons in prison across the country are awaiting trial – blaming the situation on the President.
The report did not also spare the deadly insurgent group, Boko Haram. It said the insurgency in the Northeast has rendered many hopeless and accused the Boko Haram militants of committing pogrom in which more than 20,000 people have been killed and maimed with permanent injury.
“The most serious human rights abuses included those committed by Boko Haram, which conducted numerous attacks on government and civilian targets that resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries, widespread destruction, the internal displacement of an estimated 1.8 million persons, and the external displacement of 220,000 Nigerian refugees to neighboring countries”, the report said.
It pointed out that in response to Boko Haram violent attacks, and at times to crime and insecurity in general, “security services perpetrated extrajudicial killings, and engaged in torture, rape, arbitrary detention, mistreatment of detainees, and destruction of property”.
“The country also suffered from widespread societal unrest, including ethnic, regional, and religious violence. Other serious human rights problems included vigilante killings; prolonged pretrial detention, often in facilities with poor conditions; denial of fair public trial; executive influence on the judiciary; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; and restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and movement.
“There were reports during the year of official corruption; violence against women and children, including female genital mutilation/cutting; infanticide; sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; early and forced marriages; discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; discrimination based on ethnicity, regional origin, religion, and disability; forced and bonded labour; and child labour”.
According to the report, impunity remained widespread at all levels of government; saying “although President Buhari’s administration began initial steps to curb corruption, authorities did not investigate or punish the majority of cases of police or military abuse.
“Boko Haram perpetrated numerous attacks, often directly targeting civilians. The group, which recruited and forcefully conscripted child soldiers, carried out bombings–including suicide bombings–and attacks on population centers in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Plateau, and Yobe States. In some cases, the group employed women and children as suicide bombers. The government investigated these attacks but prosecuted only a few members of Boko Haram”.