KANO, Nigeria — Rights groups on Friday accused Nigerian troops and police of abuses, including extra-judicial killings, as they sought to quell deadly riots in northern Nigeria after the April 16 presidential poll.
Police and military officials could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman for the governor in the hard-hit state of Kaduna denied the allegations.
New York-based Human Rights Watch and Civil Rights Congress, a local rights group based in the city of Kaduna, have separately accused soldiers and police of extra-judicial killings and other abuses.
The abuses are alleged to have occurred in Kaduna and another northern city, Zaria, both of which were severely affected by the riots that Civil Rights Congress says killed more than 500 people.
“In response to the post-election violence, troops and the police have been implicated in extra-judicial killings of unarmed residents,” Eric Guttschuss, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who monitored the elections, told AFP.
“Human Rights Watch has established documented extra-judicial killings in Kaduna and Zaria.”
He added that police and soldiers carried out raids and rounded up suspects following the violence, and “there have been credible reports that the police and military have severely beaten arrested persons in their custody.”
Shehu Sani, the director of Civil Rights Congress, also alleged extra-judicial killings and other abuses.
Sani said soldiers and police flogged residents of Kaduna and forced them to frog-jump and roll on the ground for defying a curfew imposed by the state government amid the violence.
“These acts are gross violations of the residents? rights and dignity,” Sani said. “We have documented such abuses in addition to extra-judicial killings of innocent residents by soldiers and the police.”
The rights activists called for probes into the allegations.
A spokesman for the Kaduna state governor dismissed the accusations as baseless and “a deliberate attempt to smear the image of the security personnel who have done an excellent job of restoring and maintaining peace in the state.”
“The government has not received any complaints of abuse or extra-judicial killings from any residents, and if such alleged abuses have taken place there was no way they could have escaped the knowledge of the government,” Reuben Buhari said.
Violent protests erupted across Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north over the election won by incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian. His main rival was ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north.
The riots displaced an estimated 74,000 people.