[JURIST] The corruption and violence permeating the Nigerian government have reached crisis levels, according to a report [text; press release] issued Tuesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. Comparing the behavior of the Nigerian government to a criminal organization, the HRW report said that politicians use hired thugs to intimidate voters and critics, often staying in office for years without fear of punishment. The report warned that corruption has become so endemic that immediate action is needed to save Nigerian democracy. HRW called on Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua [BBC profile] to keep his campaign pledge to bring law and democracy to the nation. Yar'Adua is the first civilian president to win an election and to serve following another civilian leader. HRW urged Yar'Adua to hold the government and its officials accountable to the citizens of Nigeria.
Nigeria faces continuing challenges of government corruption, with the national Senate previously indicting former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Vice President Atiku Akubakar on charges of diverting public funds for private use [JURIST report]. In May, 25 judicial officials were removed [JURIST report] from their offices in the Lagos State Judiciary [official website] following allegations of corruption and bribery. In July, former state governor Dieprieye Alamieyeseigha [BBC profile] was sentenced [JURIST report] to a total of 12 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to six counts of corruption and money laundering. BBC News has more.