JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A Dutch lawyer at the International Criminal Court and Nigerian rights activists said Thursday they have evidence showing Nigeria's 2015 presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari instigating and inciting violence that led to the killings of some 800 people after he lost 2011 elections.
"There are references to lynching, there's a reference to killing," Goran Sluiter, a human rights lawyer who represents complaints to the ICC, said of video recordings of the former military dictator now campaigning.
Activist Yunana Shibkau said his Northern Coalition for Democracy and Justice will use such recordings to convince the International Criminal Court to charge the retired general with crimes against humanity.
Both men spoke to The Associated Press before a news conference Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, saying they hope to pre-empt similar violence at Feb. 14 elections.
Sluiter said the timing of the news conference, three weeks before balloting, is because "my clients are really committed to justice being done — an inevitable ingredient for peace and stability in Nigeria."
Buhari's campaign denied the allegations saying "This is all part of the campaign to stop Buhari at all cost."
It said the violence was "a spontaneous reaction to perceived electoral shenanigans."
Previously it has said such allegations are orchestrated by President Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari's chief rival. Buhari ousted a democratically elected president in 1983 and was then ejected from office in a 1985 coup.
Most analysts are predicting a win for Jonathan in the most closely contested election since military dictatorship ended in 1994. But DaMina Advisors, a research firm focusing on Africa, Thursday published an electoral statistical model that anticipates Buhari would narrowly unseat Jonathan.
Jonathan's party has suffered numerous defections because his candidacy flouts an understanding that the presidency rotate between a Christian southerner, like Jonathan, and a Muslim northerner.
Buhari's supporters say he can curb the northeastern Islamic uprising that has become increasingly deadly, and prosecute corruption.
But Shibkau said Buhari should have been prosecuted in Nigeria for inciting the postelection violence in which 65,000 people were also made homeless and Christian churches and schools were burned.
He quoted from a 2011 rally where Buhari urges supporters, "If anybody tries to prevent you from guarding your vote, kill them."