US GIVES CONDITIONS FOR OBAMA'S VISIT
America had given conditions Abuja has to meet to be included in President Barack Obama's proposed trip to Africa this year.
White House sources said the administration was planning a five-nation-trip for Mr. Obama later in the year and that Nigeria was under consideration for a presidential visit.
'Nigerian officials communicated their disappointment when the president visited Ghana and we promised to consider the country in the next round of visit to the continent by the president,' administration officials stated.
However, they warned that Obama would not visit Nigeria if the level of pre-election violence continued. 'We fear the violence may affect the outcome of the election and the United States would not want to be in the uncomfortable position of endorsing a flawed poll,' officials stated.
The administration also wants pro-democracy groups, election observers and civic group to play prominent roles in the polls. 'We want these groups to have unrestricted access to electioncentres to observe the process,' officials stated.
Sources said the American concern was heightened by a report by Amnesty International that warned that unless Nigerian authorities acted to reduce political, ethnic and religious violence, it might threaten the stability of the April elections.
The report, entitled 'Loss of life, insecurity and impunity in the run up to Nigeria's elections,' highlighted how hundreds of people had been killed in politically-motivated, communal and sectarian violence across Nigeria ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls.
The group concluded that authorities had failed to bring suspected perpetrators to justice or to prevent further human rights abuses as investigations were infrequent and often inadequate.
'The Nigerian authorities must act to protect people's lives and all political candidates should denounce violence and tell their supporters to campaign peacefully,' said Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Africa, Tawanda Hondora.
'Candidates should tell voters what they will do to stop the senseless killings and improve security and justice in Nigeria. The presidential debate on Friday March 18 is an excellent opportunity to make such a commitment,' he said.
Amnesty said one of the worst episodes of violence was a bomb attack in Jos on December 24, 2010, killed about 80 people. The attack, which was later claimed by the Boko Haram armed religious sect, also sparked months of reprisal attacks between different ethnic and religious groups in Plateau State that left at least another 120 people dead.
Officials stated that more than 50 people had also been killed since July 2010 in violence directly related to elections.