Communal violence and terrorism by armed groups in Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara states led to at least 1,126 fatalaities in villagers between January and July 2020, according to a report released by Amnesty International on Monday.
The latest report by the human rights watchdog lamented that Nigerian authorities have left rural communities at the mercy of rampaging gunmen.
“In addition to the security forces’ failure to heed warnings or respond in time to save lives, the fact that no perpetrators have been brought to justice leaves rural communities feeling completely exposed.”
“The President claims he has repeatedly tasked security agencies to end the killing so that Nigerians can go to bed with their eyes closed, but clearly, nothing has changed.”
The worst affected areas were in the communities in southern Kaduna, where armed men killed at least 366 people in multiple attacks between January and July 2020. In response, the state government imposed a 24-hour curfew in affected communities in June 2020.
‘’Violence has been on and off in southern Kaduna since the aftermath of 2011 elections and authorities have failed to end the violence or bring the perpetrators to justice,’’ the Amnesty report observed.
The Amnesty report also highlighted that the lingering violence has forced many farmers and their families to flee their homes, ensuring that the farming communities were unable to cultivate their farms during the 2020 rain season.
Osai Ojigho, Amnesty country director, says attacks have caused massive displacement and food insecurity in the affected states. “The majority of the people in these communities depend on farming for their livelihoods, but they are now too afraid to go to their fields.”
In a trenchant rebuke Ojigho expressed pain that in response to the attacks, the Nigerian authorities have displayed gross incompetence and a total disregard for people’s lives.
“Arresting people who dare to ask for help is a further blow. Instead of arresting critics, the authorities should be seeking urgent solutions to this crisis and doing all they can to prevent further attacks.”