Motion for a resolution - B7-0137/2012Motion for a resolution
B7-0137/2012

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation in Nigeria (2012/2550(RSP))

7.3.2012

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Marietje Schaake, Kristiina Ojuland, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Graham Watson, Marielle de Sarnez on behalf of the ALDE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0131/2012

Procedure : 2012/2550(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
B7-0137/2012
Texts tabled :
B7-0137/2012
Debates :
Texts adopted :

B7‑0137/2012

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Nigeria (2012/2550(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria,

­–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,

–   having regard to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 1981, ratified by Nigeria on 22 June 1983,

–   having regard to the UN Commission on Human Rights resolution E/CN.4/RES/2005/69 <http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/CHR/resolutions/E-CN_4-RES-2005-69.doc> requesting the ‘Secretary General to appoint a special representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises,

–   having regard to the August 2011 United Nations Environmental Programme report on the environmental assessment of Ogoniland,

–   having regard to reports by Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group and Christian Solidarity Worldwide on the situation Nigeria,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Nigeria’s political and ethnic stability has repercussions beyond its borders, owing to the country’s leading role in the region and in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole;

B.  whereas intercommunal, sectarian and political violence has claimed over 16,000 lives since the end of military rule in 1999; whereas government security forces have allegedly; frequently been involved in human rights abuses, including extortion, arbitrary arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings;

C. whereas last year alone, violent episodes in Plateau State have led to over 350 deaths in over 45 separate incidents; whereas soldiers and police allegedly involved in violent attacks in Plateau State villages that led to 130 deaths, have yet to be prosecuted;

D. whereas over 1000 people died in the violence that erupted following the announcement of last year’s presidential elections making it one of the bloodiest ever. Whereas according to International Crisis Group, the polls were marred by ‘malpractice, logistical deficiencies and procedural inconsistencies’;

E.  whereas policies at local and state level that discriminate against ‘non-indigenes’ -citizens who cannot prove their ancestry to those people who are said to be the original inhabitants of the land, - worsen intercommunal tensions and entrench ethnic-based divisions;

F.  whereas deep poverty, entrenched corruption, bad governance, and widespread police abuses have created an environment where militant groups thrive and easily find recruits amongst Nigeria’s unemployed youth;

G. whereas Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group, founded in 2002 in Maiduguri, one of the poorest states in the north east of the country, has claimed responsibility for bombings and attacks that have led to 935 deaths;

H. whereas Boko Haram’s campaign of violence intensified in 2009, after the death while in custody of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf and twelve other followers; whereas, in order to avenge its leader’s death, the group principally targets government security forces, but also churches, mosques and imams who disagree with Boko Haram, politicians, traditional leaders and members of different ethnic groups;

I.   whereas in 2011 the group began using suicide bombers and attacked the United Nations building in Abuja killing 25 people and injuring 100 others; whereas in a coordinated attack on November 4, Boko Haram targeted police stations, banks and churches in Borno and Yobe leading to the loss of 100 lives; whereas the January 2012 attack in Kano resulted in the highest death toll in a single day and claimed the lives of over 185 police and residents; whereas in February Boko Haram allegedly attacked a Mosque in Kano, killing five people;

J.   whereas matters are complicated by the fact that Boko Haram has apparently split into three factions: one aims to renounce violence; another is apparently keen to have a peace agreement similar to that offered to Niger Delta militants; whereas the most extreme faction rejects negotiations, and would like to implement Sharia law throughout Nigeria;

K. whereas Niger Delta militants see the recent increase in violent attacks as an attempt by the northern militants to undermine and derail the current presidency, which they support, as President Goodluck Jonathan is from their area;

L.  whereas, according to survivors of Boko Haram attacks, some of the militants are from neighbouring Chad, Cameron and Niger;

M. whereas in response to the upsurge in violence, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in several states on December 31, 2011 and temporarily closed borders with Chad, Cameroon and Niger; whereas the President has admitted that Boko Haram has infiltrated state institutions and security forces while corrupt officials have allegedly provided Boko Haram with weapons;

N. whereas the Nigerian government spends approximately $8 billion a year on fuel subsidies; whereas in countries rich in resources and with a huge divide between rich and the poor such as Nigeria, subsidized gas is one of the few benefits trickling down from an infamously corrupt government that has mismanaged oil profits;

O. whereas at the beginning of this year, violent public protest and a weeklong general strike, forced President Goodluck Jonathan to partly reinstate the fuel subsidy; whereas international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, argue that subsidies distort the market and could be better used to fund education, health service and other services;

P.  whereas the ruling elite’s mismanagement and misuse of the country’s vast natural resources - namely oil - continues largely unabated; whereas, moreover, successive oil spills from multinational oil operations, sabotage of pipelines, theft of crude oil and widespread gas flaring have led to heavy pollution of the Niger delta; whereas according to a UN report, the environmental restoration of Nigeria’s Ogoniland oil region could turn out to be the world’s most wide-ranging and long-term oil clean-up exercise, if contaminated drinking water, land, creeks and other ecosystems are to be brought back to full health;

Q. whereas further to a 2009 amnesty, in which several thousand people, including top militant commanders gave up their weapons in return for cash payments, has significantly reduced attacks on oil facilities, however kidnappings continue in south-eastern Nigeria and the Niger Delta;

R.  whereas, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina, has spoken out against the high incidence of rape and sexual violence against women in the country and stated that in order to address this worrying development, it is imperative that the ‘violence against persons’ bill be passed into law;

S.  whereas according to Nigeria’s federal criminal code homosexual conduct carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison, whereas in certain states which implement Sharia law, consensual male homosexual conduct is punishable by death while in the case of women, flogging and 6 month prison sentences; whereas federal legislation was also recently introduced which criminalizes same-sex marriages; whereas the national assembly attempted on two occasions to introduce such legislation but was prevented from doing so by international and domestic human rights activists;

T.  whereas in May the Nigerian Government introduced the Freedom of Information act which guarantees the public right to access public records;

U. whereas civil society and independent journalists openly criticize the government creating an environment of robust political debate; whereas however, journalists are still subject to harassment and arrest if they report on cases involving the country’s economic and political elite;

V. whereas Nigerian labour activists and human rights defenders Osmond Ugwu and Raphael Elobuike are being detained Enugu Federal Prison in South East Nigeria on charges of attempted murder of a policeman following their arrest at a workers rally on 24 October 2011; whereas, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch there is no evidence in the prosecution’s case against them;

1.  Condemns the loss of so many lives through intercommunal, sectarian and political violence and extends its condolences to the families of the bereaved;

2.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to take immediate and effective measures to protect its citizens, put an end to the violence, widespread corruption and impunity for the perpetrators of human rights violations, and actively promote respect for human rights;

3.  Highlights the need for a nuanced analysis of the root causes of Nigeria’s instability and tensions, and stresses the need to avoid simplistic explanations based only on religion that are unhelpful and do not provide the elements for a lasting solution to the problems of this region;

4.  Calls on the Nigerian Federal Government to take concrete measures to support inter-ethnic and inter-faith dialogue and to carry out an investigation into the causes of the most recent episodes of violence and ensure that the perpetrators of acts of violence are brought to justice in a fair and transparent manner; urges all parties to exercise restraint and seek peaceful means to resolve differences between religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria;

5.  Urges the Nigerian Federal Government to address the issue of the nation’s porous borders in conjunction with the governments of neighbouring countries, such as Cameroon, Niger and Chad, as militants from these countries have been involved in violent attacks;

6.  Stresses the urgency of disclosing the results of the investigation into post-electoral violence, including the identities of those responsible and the causes, and working with state governments, local councils, traditional and religious leaders, relevant non-state actors and key local figures to prevent a recurrence of violence in the 2015 general elections; urges the authorities to ensure that those responsible for electoral malpractices or post-electoral violence, are prosecuted, regardless of their social status;

7.  Appeals to the authorities to address the genuine grievances of citizens living in areas in the North of the country that are much poorer than some wealthier Southern states and prioritise the improvement of their dire living conditions, while not overlooking states with similar problems in the South;

8.  Calls on the Nigerian authorities and foreign companies active in the Nigerian oil sector to help strengthen governance by improving transparency and accountability in the extractives sector, and calls on companies to abide by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and publish what they pay to the Nigerian government.

9.  Stresses the need for the Nigerian authorities and multinational oil companies to do their utmost to bring ongoing contamination to an end, in order to address environmental damage that has resulted from oil pollution;

10  Strongly encourages the Nigerian authorities to ensure that the ‘violence against persons’ bill be passed into law and hopes that it will be instrumental in stemming the high incidence of sexual violence and other acts of violence against women;

11. Welcomes the attempt to improve government transparency through the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act;

12. Calls on the government to release labour union leader Osmond Ogwu and union member Raphael Elobuike due to the lack of evidence in the prosecution’s case against them;

13. Calls for the abolition of current legislation criminalizing homosexuality, in some cases making it punishable by stoning; calls on the Nigerian Parliament to abandon its examination of the ‘Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill’ which if passed would put LGBT people - both Nigerian nationals and foreigners - at serious risk of violence and arrest; recalls its categorical opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances and calls on the Nigerian government to abolish it;

14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the EU Council and Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the institutions of the African Union, the United Nations Secretary-General, the United Nations General Assembly, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the PAN-African Parliament (PAP).