Special rapporteurs and independent human rights experts at the United Nations 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.

It comes amidst reports of irregularities in primaries around the country, including reports of party and election officials excluding women candidates from candidate lists.

Some said women were denied essential information regarding the elections, and some primaries were rescheduled or cancelled, 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 lamented Nigeria was yet to actualise its National Gender Policy, which provides for women to fill 35% of all elective and appointive political posts.

“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 special rapporteurs and independent experts are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council—the council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanism that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.