More than 3,600 persons have been killed in several clashes between herders and farmers in Nigeria since 2016, Amnesty International reported on Monday. Rights group blamed the government’s failure to penalise the perpetrators for fuelling the crisis.
The international human rights organisation said more than 2,000 were killed in 2018 alone, while rendering thousands homeless.
Violence between nomadic herders and farmers has been on the rise in Nigeria over access to water and fertile land, which is becoming scarce in the face of rapid population growth and drought.
“The Nigerian authorities’ failure to investigate communal clashes and bring perpetrators to justice has fuelled a bloody escalation in the conflict between farmers and herders across the country, resulting in at least 3,641 deaths in the past three years and the displacement of thousands more,” Amnesty said in a statement.
It said that of the 310 attacks recorded between January 2016 and October 2018, 57% were in 2018 mostly occurred in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Kaduna and Plateau.
The human rights group also accused the Nigerian security forces of not doing enough to end the killings.
“Security forces are often positioned close to the attacks, which can sometimes last for days, and yet have been slow to act,” it reported.
In some cases, Security forces were notified of an imminent raid but did nothing to prevent the looting, killings, maiming or burning of homes.
“The Nigerian government has displayed what can only be described as gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its population,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International, Nigeria
“Our research shows that these attacks were well planned and coordinated, with the use of weapons like machine guns and AK-47 rifles,” Amnesty Director said.
“In some places, because of the failures of the security forces, competition over resources is used as a pretext to kill and maim along ethnic or religious lines,” she lamented.
“The conflict has been dangerously politicised by some state government officials who have inflamed tensions by embarking on a blame game along political party lines.”
The lingering violence is surmounting pressures on President Buhari, who is tackling a nine-year insurgency by the Boko Haram jihadist group in the northeast region of the country.
The 76-year-old retired Army General has come under serious riticism for his inability to end the country’s many security challenges as he seeks a second term in February 2019 presidential elections.