Prominent Nigerian Human Rights Activist Assassinated--International Groups Call for Investigation and Government Accountability

For Immediate Release

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Prominent Nigerian Human Rights Activist Assassinated--International Groups Call for Investigation and Government Accountability

NEW YORK - Prominent Nigerian human rights activist and promoter of nonviolent social change, Chidi Nwosu, was brutally assassinated in his home in Abia state in south-eastern Nigeria on December 29, 2010.

Nwosu was founder and president of the Human Rights, Justice and Peace Foundation, based in Abia state and affiliated with the secular pacifist War Resisters International (WRI), of which War Resisters League (WRL) is an affiliate. Nwosu saw clearly the connections between ending war and building true democracy, asserting, "We know where war leads - to suffering and destruction, to rape and organized crime, to betrayal of values and to new structures of domination." During this time leading up to national elections in Nigeria, Nwosu focused on ending government corruption and building a broad movement through which people could give voice to their needs. He declared that the international community should recognize "nonviolent mass action as a basic human right."

Nwosu's work most recently focused on supporting democratic elections at the state level, organizing against rigged election processes and the use of violence to intimidate voters.  Matt Meyer of the WRI Africa Working Group states that while Nwosu's assassination remains "unsolved and uninvestigated by the Nigerian authorities...there can also be little doubt that Nwosu's torture and murder-with assailants entering his house, locking his wife and five-year-old daughter in the bathroom, shooting him in the temple, and dragging his bloodied body from one room to the next-was intended as a deterrent to anti-corruption campaigning in the months leading up to Nigeria's April elections."

Other groups have joined Nwosu in working on this issue. Salihu Lukman, CEO of Nigeria's Good Governance Group, states that for pro-democracy and anti-corruption organizers in Nigeria in the months ahead, the task at hand is for community organizations, civil society groups, trade unions, faith-based groups, and others to be "mobilized to begin to develop mandate strategies in order to ensure that incidences of ballot box snatching and rigging are minimized."

In addition to his work for fair and democratic elections, Nwosu also worked against kidnappings (which have been increasing in southern Nigeria), against police corruption, and against the privatization of key state-run rubber-producing facilities.  In a statement released today, War Resisters International condemned the assassination as a threat to campaigners for democracy and human rights in Nigeria: "A committed and courageous campaigner for fair and free elections in Nigeria, [Nwosu's] atrocious murder will send chills through the movement for government and corporate accountability, and the push for democratic rights. Nwosu´s death is intended to send a clear message to activists working for change."

Without a push for a government that gives voice to people's needs, Matt Meyer of WRI states, "there is little chance that Nigeria will emerge from its militarized, neo-colonial predicament, a fact that may not be troubling news for the many multinationals who continue to profit from the chaos in one of Africa's richest countries."

In their statement, WRI "demands a prompt and complete investigation into the circumstances of Nwosu´s death, the immediate interrogation of suspects in custody, and the public release of autopsy results." A newly formed organization of Nigerian Diaspora activists also calls for an accountability process for the murder: "We are asking the Inspector General of Police to thoroughly investigate this heinous crime...and to prosecute those who were involved. Fighting for the welfare and rights of our fellow compatriots is a worthwhile ideal. We must celebrate our fallen heroes, and we must encourage our youth to follow the same path. Above all, we believe that the best way to show appreciation for those who put their lives at risk for our nation is to ensure that they never die in vain."

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References:

Nigerians in Diaspora for Chidi Nwosu:  http://www.chidinwosufoundation.org/

Matt Meyer, "The Legacy of Nigeria's Chidi Nwosu," War Resisters League: www.warresisters.org; War Resisters' International: www.wri-irg.org

Republic Report, "Who Killed Chidi Nwosu?" http://www.republicreport.com/mysterious-political-killings-in-nigeria-who-killed-comrade-chidi-nwosu/

 

 

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The United States’ oldest secular pacifist organization, the War Resisters League has been resisting war at home and war abroad since 1923. Our work for nonviolent revolution has spanned decades and has been shaped by the new visions and strategies of each generation’s peacemakers.

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