Human Rights Watch indicts FG on security

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Human Rights Watch has said the Federal Government’s failure to ensure adequate protection for citizens is an indication of gaps in security, which has led to persistent attacks by Boko Haram, increased herdsmen conflict and violent banditry in some northern states.

In its World Report for 2019, the rights group said failure of security forces to effectively respond to attacks and their use of lethal force against unarmed civilians are troubling trend that needs to be addressed.

The Nigerian researcher at Human Rights Watch, Aniette Ewang, said the Federal Government’s response to the heightened violence has led to little concrete and meaningful change.

“Persistent attacks by Boko Haram, intensified conflict between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities, and violent banditry in many northern states dominated Nigeria’s human rights landscape during 2018. government’s failure to ensure adequate protection for citizens and accountability for attacks is a clear indication of huge gaps in security.

“At least 1,200 people were killed and nearly 200,000 displaced in 2018; in the nine-year-long North East conflict between Boko Haram insurgents and government forces.

“Another 1,600 people were killed and 300,000 displaced as a result of inter-communal violence in the north central region. Scores of others were killed during heavy-handed crackdowns by security forces.

“Nigerian authorities’ response to the heightened violence has led to little concrete and meaningful change. The failure of security forces to effectively respond to attacks and their use of lethal force against unarmed civilians are a troubling trend that needs to be addressed,” Ewang said.

Similarly, the group’s Executive Director, Kenneth Roth, in his introductory essay said abductions, suicide bombings, and attacks on civilian targets by Boko Haram continue despite proclamations of the group’s defeat by government forces.

“In February 2018, insurgents abducted 110 schoolgirls from Dapchi, Yobe State. Five died in captivity, 104 were freed, and one is still held, allegedly for refusing to deny her Christian faith. Boko Haram insurgents executed two aid workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The prosecution of Boko Haram suspects, which began in October 2017, continued in 2018 with trials of over 1,500 suspects. Although fraught with irregularities, the trials are an important step toward justice.

“In June, herdsmen attacked villages in Plateau State, killing 86 people and injuring hundreds, including women and children, apparently in retaliation for an alleged earlier killing of five herdsmen by farmers. In September, suspected herdsmen killed 51 people and abducted about 24 others in Numan, Adamawa State.

“At least 45 people were killed in an attack by bandits in Gwaska village, Kaduna State, in May. Zamfara State was perhaps the worst affected by frequent bandit attacks, which killed at least 400 people and displaced over 38,000 in 2018. Nigeria, which sits on the UN Human Rights Council, abstained from voting in 2018 on most council resolutions dealing with serious human rights concerns. Its only positive vote was on a resolution to create an accountability mechanism for crimes committed in Myanmar since 2011.”

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