Almost twice the number of Nigerians killed in 2017 have passed on in the first half of this year, Amnesty International (AI) is reporting.
And it is saying all this is happening because the Nigerian authorities are failing to hold murderers to account, thereby encouraging impunity that is fueling rising insecurity across the country.
In a statement by its spokesman, Isa Sanusi, AI says independently verified estimated figures indicate that since January 2018 at least 1813 people have been murdered in 17 states, which is double the 894 people killed in 2017. The death tolls reflect killings as a result of farmers-herders conflict, communal clashes, Boko Haram attacks and banditry.
“We are gravely concerned about the rising spate of killings across the country, especially the communal clashes between farmers and herders and attacks by bandits across at least 17 states,” said Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International Nigeria
“The authorities have a responsibility to protect lives and properties, but they are clearly not doing enough going by what is happening” said Osai Ojigho
“The latest incidence in Plateau state, where armed gunmen attacked 11 villages on 23 June for at least seven hours and killed at least 200 villagers without intervention from security forces should be investigated.”
That the violence in Plateau started after an attack, which was followed by reprisal attacks from Thursday 21 shows unacceptable security lapses.
Despite the deployment of security forces, including the military in over 30 states, the escalation of these attacks shows that whatever is being done by authorities is not working.
There is urgent need for people who are suspected of committing crimes to be held accountable.
“We hope that President Buhari’s commitment to bring those suspected to be criminally responsible for the killings in Plateau state to justice will break the impunity that has spread through the country.”
“In addition, government must answer these questions: who are these attackers, where do they come from, where do they go after attacks, who arms them, why is security forces’ response time very slow?”
Amnesty International is currently investigating the rising insecurity that has resulted in the increase in killings across Nigeria.
Amnesty International’s investigations show worrying details of how frequently the security forces failed to protect villagers. In all cases Amnesty International investigated, the attackers, usually arriving in their hundreds spend hours killing people and setting houses on fire and then disappeared without a trace.
Amnesty International is also very concerned about the impact of these killings on farming, especially with the affected villages and farmlands deserted because people fear going back to their homes.
“We are at the peak of farming season, and communities affected by this wave of violence are largely agrarian. But because of fear of attacks they have either been displaced or unable to cultivate their farms, therefore their major source of food and income threatened by the attacks,” said Osai Ojigho
The organization is calling on Nigerian authorities to address security lapses that make it easier for the killers to carry out attacks and disappear.
“Making arrests and bringing to justice those suspected to be responsible for these attacks is crucial in ending the killings that are gradually turning into almost a daily occurrence. In many instances these killings happen and no arrests take place,” said Osai Ojigho.