President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, reacted to reports of the UN rapporteur on violence in Nigeria.
Garba Shehu, his spokesman, in a statement, said while the presidency agrees that the violence in Nigeria, or in any country, is a major concern and that there is a rippling effect, it was disappointed that the rapporteur was silent on intra-group violence.
He said: “In Benue, Taraba, Cross River States and many parts of the country, most of the casualties result from intra-group, inter-group and community violence. Many of the displaced persons across the nation are also victims of these conflicts.
“There is absolutely no doubt that violence between farmers and herders, which has a long history in our country spiked in recent years but the effectiveness with which the Federal and State authorities responded made a big difference. Calm has virtually returned to all parts affected by the peculiar violence.
“Therefore, we are saddened that the rapporteur did not address intra-ethnic conflicts and cattle rustling as key elements in herder/farmer conflicts. In Benue State for instance, the Tiv/Jukun conflict and kidnapping is a major problem. We are glad that local communities have fully realized this, and scholars with a strong motivation for peace and stability in their communities and the nation are trying to address the problem.
“Ignoring the salient issues will not help to solve the problem. If you are going to address violence and the general insecurity in Nigeria, incidents everywhere should be part of the narrative. Not addressing this might make it easier to blame the Federal Government, but national peace and security is community based and a collective responsibility.
“Arrests, prosecution and locking people up are only small parts of National Security and Safety strategy.
“In Benue State as cited earlier, the work of a US scholar of Tiv extraction, Professor Dick Adzenge deserves special mention for attempting to get aspects of violence addressed. The expectation that arresting and putting people in prison is the only credible response to violence is a mistake. Professor Adzenge and a few others like him are working with young people, traditional rulers and communities to seek peaceful resolution of conflicts and encourage peaceful co-existence.
“The sort of effort we are talking about here has so far revealed interesting facts about the problem in Benue State that cannot be ignored.
“And it is the sort of support we seek from the UN rapporteur in reporting, not the report that scratches the surface of the subject then ends up blaming the government under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. The UN representative needs to be truthful and even-handed in her assignment.”
UN sends message to Buhari govt over violence, herdsmen killings in Nigeria
Ms. Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, has called on Buhari Government and the international community to pay special attention to the lingering violence in north-central Nigeria.
“The situation in the north-central appears to be spreading to other parts of the country. There is need for urgent actions to end the violence which is claiming thousands of lives,” Callamard said at a press conference on Monday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), quotes the UN official as saying that she called the conference to share her findings on “arbitrary deprivations” in the country..
“According to my preliminary findings, Nigeria is a pressure cooker of internal conflicts with issues of poverty and climate change adding to the crisis.
“If the crisis in central Nigeria is ignored, its ripple effects will spread through the-sub region given Nigeria’s important role in the continent. If that happens, the major victim will be the vulnerable populations in the country.”
According to her, the crimes committed in the northeast are not just against the victims and the Nigerian state.
“The crimes are against humanity; accountability must be delivered and the people must be involved and present in those processes.
“The suspected perpetrators – whether they are Boko Haram, other split groups or even security agencies – must also be held accountable,” Callamard added.
She called for trust in the Justice sector, saying that distrust could lead to the proliferation of vigilante groups and cases of jungle justice in the country
Callamard urged government to ensure access to justice for victims of human rights violation, and expressed happiness at the positive signs in the north-east demonstrated by the decrease in the number of killings over the last years.
“I have found some positive signs; for instance, in the north-east, the number of allegations of arbitrary killings or death in custody has decreased over the last two years.
“This evolution needs to be thoroughly assessed to determine the factors and actors that allowed for that positive development.”
She said that Nigeria was currently being confronted by regional and global pressures, saying that the situation could be blamed on population explosion, increased number of people living in poverty, climate change, desertification and the increased proliferation of weapons.
The UN official said that the step taken by the government to consider ranching and increased security in the country was a welcome development.
“Ranching is a long term measure but steps must be taken now and a great deal of discussions and consultations must take place.
“Due to the level of distrust and lack of confidence, more efforts must be placed on finding long-term solutions. There is need for a roadmap that must develop meaningful accountability.
“There must also be a real plan toward ending the excesses of the security agencies,” she said.
She also called for more attention to the herders/farmers conflicts to check its spread, urging government to also look for a shorter immediate solution to the humanitarian crisis enveloping some parts of the country.