According to the group, government’s failure to deal with the herdsmen has served as a source of encouragement to them.
Amnesty’s statement drew immediate reactions from Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere; its counterpart in the South East, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, who all agreed that the group’s observation was spot on.
However, the Presidency refused to react to the allegation but referred Vanguard to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who promised to react later, after studying the report and consulting with relevant government agencies.
Similarly, Director of Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim, also said Defence Headquarters would react only after studying Amnesty International’s report.
But Amnesty International in a statement signed by its director in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said at least 1,813 people had been murdered in attacks across 17 states since January 2018, stressing that this was more than double those killed in 2017.
The organisation said the Federal Government was not doing enough to address the killings, especially in the northern part of the country.
The death toll
“Independently verified estimated figures indicate that since January 2018, at least 1,813 people have been murdered in 17 states, which is double the 894 people killed in 2017.”
It noted that by failing to hold murderers to account, the Federal Fovernment was encouraging impunity, which is fuelling rising insecurity across the country.
“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.
“The authorities have a responsibility to protect lives and properties, but they are clearly not doing enough going by what is happening”, Amnesty International stated.
It said the latest incident in Plateau State, where gunmen attacked and killed over 80 villagers, should be investigated.
“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?”
AI said it was currently investigating the rising insecurity that had 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 arrive in their hundreds, spend hours killing people and setting houses on fire and then disappear without a trace.
“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 are threatened by the attacks,” the group noted.
Amnesty International urged the government to make arrests and bring to justice those responsible for the attacks.