The presidency yesterday said the Federal Government would take necessary action after analysing the Amnesty International’s damning allegations against President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
Amnesty International, which campaigns to end abuses of human rights, had recently expressed concern over sundry misdemeanors by the government.
The report alleged deadly conflicts between farmers and cattle herders in central Nigeria over land and natural resources, which reached a high point in 2018.
In 2018, it said, “more than 2,000 people were killed in such conflicts. That’s more than the previous two years combined, and hundreds more than were killed by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.”
The death toll this year, the report found, was exacerbated by the government’s failure to keep the peace and investigate and prosecute the attackers.
Overall, the report, which details three years of clashes, paints a picture of a conflict in which both farmers and pastoralists across Nigeria’s Middle Belt region have lost confidence in the rule of law and feel empowered to retaliate against their neighbours with impunity.
“The Nigerian authorities have failed to prosecute those who have committed crimes,” says Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
He said people are grieving on both sides of the conflict, but feel that the only way you can get attention is with violence, and so the cycle continues.”
But, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, accused AI of drawing wrong conclusions by the report.
He said the first thing to say about Amnesty International’s Report: Setting the Record Straight, is to thank the organisation for confirming a fact by President Buhari that the conflict between herders and farmers in Nigeria is not about religion.
AI also confirmed that it is being stoked by local politicians and that this whole problem is about scarcity of resources.
Shehu added that beyond these, the report has raised concerns about the validity of their evidence gathering, adding that it is like knowing the facts, but drawing the wrong conclusions.
He accused the body of getting some of its facts wrong. “It is not correct to state in any way that the problem between farmers and herders is a new thing over the last three years. It has been happening for over 100 years. The colonial powers, Britain and France, had regularly recorded these conflicts, which are available in the archives.
“It is equally untrue that government has done nothing. Alleged human rights abuses have been investigated and clashes have been reduced through government’s actions,” he said.