- The international rights organisation has called for protection of the former anti graft chief, Nuhu Ribadu after receiving a series of threats made against his life.
Mr Ribadu former chairman of Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told Human Rights Watch that he feared for his life and believed the threats leveled against him including shots fired at him in late September and telephoned death threats were linked to his work at the graft agency.
He was removed from his position in December 2007 after the commission arrested and indicted on corruption charges a powerful politician who was known to be close to the president.
"The campaign of intimidation against Mr Ribadu appears aimed at silencing a key voice in the crucial fight against corruption in Nigeria," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
However, a spokesman for the police said the force had not received any complaints or reports of threats from Mr Ribadu or the police bodyguards assigned to him.
Despite pledges to allow the EFCC to pursue an impartial "zero-tolerance" effort to pursue corrupt officials, the government of President Umaru Yar'Adua - now in its second year - has seriously undermined the fledgling anti-corruption efforts that began under his predecessor.
Mr Ribadu's four-year tenure as Nigeria's lead anti-corruption investigator drew praise from many Nigerians, who saw him as one of the few people willing to stand up against the country's political elite and root out all corrupt officials.
According to the rights organisation, in December 2007, the EFCC arrested the powerful former Delta State governor James Ibori and charged him with 103 counts of corruption, including an alleged attempt to bribe Mr Ribadu with US$15 million in cash to drop the case against him.
HRW said corruption also lies at the heart of Nigeria's most pressing human rights problems. Many politicians are said to have used stolen government revenues to sponsor political violence in order to rig elections and fuel violence.
Watchdog groups rank Nigeria among the world's most-corrupt countries.
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