During the presentation of the report on Sectarian Violence in Nigeria, the group’s Nigerian Researcher, Mr Eric Guttschuss, told a press conference in Abuja that the police and the governments of Plateau and Kaduna States had failed to prosecute perpetrators of sectarian violence.
Mr Guttschuss pointed out that the police had failed to collect evidence properly and conduct proper investigations.
‘Leave Everything to God’
“Nigerian authorities have largely ignored the crises that have killed 3,000 people since 2010,” he said.
“Witnesses came forward to tell their stories, compiled lists of the dead, and identified the attackers, but in most cases nothing was done,” Africa director at Human Rights Watch, Daniel Bekele, said, explaining how the report was generated .
“The authorities may have forgotten these killings, but communities haven’t. In the absence of justice, residents have resorted to violence to avenge their losses,” he said citing excerpts of a new 146-page report entitled ‘Leave Everything to God’.
‘Untrue And Unholistic’
Plateau State Police Commissioner, Chris Olagbe, rejected the findings which also noted that a series of massacres and tit-for-tat sectarian attacks had gone largely unpunished as police overlooked witnesses or failed to collect evidence properly.
“That is totally untrue and unholistic,” he insisted.
“All the gunmen that have been arrested in Plateau have been taken to court,” Olagbe added, without giving details of any convictions.
Plateau state government’s spokesman, Yiljap Abraham, said Human Rights Watch had reported hearsay and its reports were “not objective or balanced”.
The Kaduna Police commissioner said that he would not comment until he had seen a copy of the report.
The report was based on interviews with 180 witnesses and victims in Kaduna and Plateau states, which lie in Nigeria’s volatile “Middle Belt”, where the largely Christian South meets the mostly Muslim North.