Global human rights watchdog, Amnesty International (AI), has described the response of the Federal Government to communal violence as grossly inadequate, too slow, ineffective, and in certain instances, illegal. The body also said communal clashes have claimed over 700 lives since last year. AI made its position known in a statement issued on Monday.
It stated that clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Ondo and Kaduna states have resulted in 168 deaths in January alone.
“The government must totally overturn its response to these deadly clashes to avoid this crisis getting out of control. They need to investigate and bring suspects to justice,” said Mr. Osai Ojigho, Director Amnesty International Nigeria.
AI added that hundreds of people lost their lives last year and the Federal Government remains unable to protect communities from the violent clashes. The organization also noted that the situation is made worse by the fact that perpetrators are daily getting away with murder. In some situations in which the Nigerian military responded, said AI, it was with excessive and unlawful force, which resulted in more deaths and destruction.
“In some cases where the Nigerian security agencies did respond to communal violence, they used excessive or unlawful force resulting in even more deaths and destruction,” said AI.
It recalled that on 4 December 2017, the Nigerian Air Force sent fighter jets to fire rockets at villages as a “warning” to deter communal violence at a time hundreds of herdsmen attacked at least five villages in Adamawa State to avenge the killing of 51 of their members of their members in Kikan.
A visit to the villages by its team after the raids, said AI, saw the team gather testimonies from residents, who said they were attacked by a fighter jet and a military helicopter as they attempted to flee.
“Launching air raids is not a legitimate law enforcement method by anyone’s standard. Such reckless use of deadly force is unlawful, outrageous and lays bare the Nigerian military’s shocking disregard for the lives of those it supposedly exists to protect,” said Mr. Ojigho.