Amnesty International has opened an office in Nigeria's federal capital of Abuja on 13 October, days after the city was rocked by suicide bombing attacks that left 18 people dead. The rights group said the office, headed by Ambassador M. K. Ibrahim, aims to send a message to victims of human rights abuses that they are not alone.
Amnesty also explained that its presence in Nigeria aims to mobilise the country's civil society and focus its work on ongoing campaigns and research on terror group Boko Haram, military abuses, use of torture, forced evictions and the right to adequate housing, and oil pollution in the Niger Delta area.
"Nigeria has achieved remarkable things -- but serious violations continue, unpunished," Amnesty International Secretary General, Salil Shetty said in a statement. "In establishing a permanent base in Nigeria, we want to send a clear message: Amnesty International stands in solidarity with the victims of human rights violations, alongside the individuals and organizations already fighting abuses. The new government has made promises of accountability, and we welcome that. Now, we must hold them to their words."
President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May after defeating former leader Goodluck Jonathan in March's election, said his administration would eradicate corruption and terrorism in the country as well as promote youth employment and women empowerment. The leader also said he is committed to improving security in the country and solve the problem of internally displaced people, most of whom escape from Boko Haram's deadly insurgence in the northeast.
"Nigeria currently has about 1.5 million internally displaced persons and they need to be returned to their homes and brought out of trauma," Buhari said during a meeting with Britain's Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton. However, the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration said there are 2.1 million internally displaced people in the African nation.
Buhari continued: "When Boko Haram is pushed out and the environment secured, normal life will be restored. That is what we are determined to do." The leader also called for further assistance from the international community to improve security in the country and in the Gulf of Guinea through which crude oil stolen from Nigeria - Africa's biggest crude producer - is shipped.
Nigeria is currently leading a new task force against Boko Haram consisting of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin. The Nigerian army recently said that it is closing in on the group and claimed some of its members are voluntarily surrendering. Boko haram, however, released an audio message and a video saying that the government's claims are false.
The group has killed more than 17,000 people since its insurgency became violent in 2009 and, together with corruption, economy diversification and oil thefts, is one of the major challenges faced by Buhari's administration.