Country Studies : Nigeria

Yusuf, Hakeem; Stan, Lavinia and Nedelsky, Nadia, eds. (2013) Country Studies : Nigeria. In: Encyclopedia of Transitional Justice. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp. 333-339. ISBN 9780521196277

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On the heels of Nigeria’s transition to democracy in 1999, the Human Rights Violations Investigations Commission (the Oputa Panel, so called after the name of its chairman) was established as the cardinal transitional justice mechanism in the post-authoritarian period. The Oputa Panel submitted its report in June 2003. However, the report remains officially unpublished and unimplemented, even though it has been posted on the Internet by a group of civil society organizations in the country. The Federal Government premises its position not to publish the report on a Supreme Court decision on a challenge of the “coercive” powers of the Oputa Panel to summon witnesses brought by some ex-military rulers of the country. Nigeria also employed lustration and trials as transitional justice measures to secure the new democratic order. In dumping the Oputa Panel’s Report, with its wide-ranging and far-reaching recommendations for accountability and institutional reforms, the Nigerian state set the stage for real and potential conflicts and gross violations of human rights in the country both by public and private actors. Since 1999, the country has witnessed several ethnic and intercommunal conflicts resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property. This has led to the view in certain quarters that not only has the transition to democracy failed to deliver on justice and restoration of the rule of law, but also that impunity and state-sponsored violence have remained unchecked, if not increased, in the country.