Insecurity: Stop Extrajudicial Killings in Northeast— CSO tells FG

… says Zamfara accounts for 10,000 deaths since 2017

Following the rising cases of habituated banditry, bloodletting in the northeast, a Civil Society Organisation, CSO, Global Rights, Wednesday called on the federal government to bring to a halt extrajudicial killings in the country.

Executive Director, Global Rights, Abiodun Baiyewu, made the call at the Mass Atrocities Summit with the theme: “Remembering to Prevent: Enhancing Collective Memory for Mass Atrocities Prevention,” in Abuja.

She lamented the mass killings of innocent Nigerians in the northeast and many other parts of the country, urging the federal government to rise to the occasion of stemming the tide of insecurity.

“Since 2010, we seem to have turned a precarious curve – the numbers of victims from each year has exceeded the last in our rapidly metastasizing scope and nature of violence.

“Mob killings, herdsmen attacks, banditry, terrorist, secessionist related massacres, targeted killing of security personnel, communal attacks, pillages, extra-judicial killings, kidnappings, sextortion, ritual killings, politically motivated assassinations, security forces’ brutality, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and an endless list of horrors, each worse than the last and for which there has hardly been any redress,” she added.

Baiyewu further bemoaned the extrajudicial killings in the middle belt and the northwest, stating that 125,000 and 10,000 deaths were reported from the states.

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She said, “The periodic episodes of violence in the Middle Belt have also shifted to accommodate larger swats of communities and greater intensity in the nature of violence, with over 125,000 killed since the Jos killings in 2001.

“In many of the states of the region, especially Plateau, Nassarawa, Taraba and Kaduna States in particular, a succession of judicial commissions of inquiry have examined discrete situations of mass killings in these respective states without providing any redress or remedy. Far from assuaging the killings, these inquiries over the years appear to have created a narrative of government incapacity to ensure accountability.

“More recently it would appear that some of the violence are not just state acquiesced but politically motivated and state-sponsored. In the period since 2015, the killings in the Middle Belt have escalated to a point where, by 2016, more people were being killed in the conflict in the region than in the conflict over Boko Haram. In 2018, over 2,000 people were killed in the Middle Belt alone, more than double the number that were killed in all of 2017.

“In North-West Nigeria, a crisis of governance has now snowballed into mass atrocities attributed in the narrative of government to people described as ‘bandits’ and ‘cattle rustlers.’ In Zamfara State alone, for instance, over 10,000 have been killed by these bandits since 2017. The State Government has confessed to being incapable of managing the situation.

“In 2017, the Zamfara State government resorted to an arms amnesty as its way of managing this situation. One bandit alone known as Buharin Daji (Buhari of the Forest), reportedly received N350,000 for each assault rifle he surrendered. Considering that he surrendered 9,250, a sum of about N3.24 billion. Far from diminishing mass atrocities, these kinds of measures have made violence and mass killings so attractive, that by 2021, the entire region had combusted into the daily mix crises of pillage, kidnappings and terror attacks.”

The Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu, represented by the Deputy Director Legal, Civil and Political Right Department, NHRC, Halalu Adamu noted the nation was unable to formally use the Oputa Panel as a method of documentation of past atrocities and as a means of reconciliation.

Ojukwu explained that given the recent conflict manifestations in the country, there is no better time than now for the nation to begin to seriously consider the use of collective memory as a conscious national effort to prevent mass atrocities.

He opined that the outcome of the summit will lead to deliberate and conscious efforts on the part of opinion leaders to devise an appropriate strategy resulting in national documentation of past atrocities in Nigeria.

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