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Nigeria must protect and promote women in politics - UN

UN human rights experts* are urging Nigeria to take immediate steps to remedy deliberate attempts to exclude women candidates from recent party primary elections for seats in state and national legislatures.

Reports of irregularities in primaries in states around Nigeria include reports of party and election officials excluding women candidates from candidate lists, denying them access to essential information regarding the election, and cancelling and rescheduling primaries, allegedly with the sole purpose of excluding women candidates.

“We call on the Nigerian authorities to fully investigate these allegations and to ensure that women candidates who have been unfairly or illegally excluded are given access to appropriate remedies,” the experts said. “We also urge the authorities to take the necessary steps to ensure that such irregularities are not present in the next phase of elections.”

There have also been reports of widespread intimidation, blackmail and violent attacks against women candidates and their supporters. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of violence and intimidation to try to keep women out of politics,” the experts said. “Perpetrators of such violence must be brought to justice.”

The experts recognised that Nigeria’s National Gender Policy contains a provision calling for measures to ensure that women fill 35 percent of elective and appointive political posts, but deplored that such measures had not been put into actual practice.

“Ensuring women’s full and equal participation in politics and in public life is required by international human rights law. What is more, it is essential for women’s equality in all spheres of life, for making certain that their perspective is represented in law and in policy, and for achieving true democracy for all,” the experts said.

The experts are in contact with Nigerian authorities about this case.

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