A group of civil society organisations has accused the Nigerian government of failing in its responsibility to end killings in parts of the country resulting from clashes between herders and farmers.
Lamenting that the killings were being carried out with impunity, the group said it would set up the Nigeria CSO Crisis Action on the Middle Belt to gather evidence towards bringing perpetrators of atrocities to account.
Abiodun Baiyewu, Country Director of Global Rights, and Otive Igbuzor, Executive Director of African Center for Leadership Strategy and Development, stated this on Monday at a press briefing in Abuja on recent killings in the Middle Belt of Nigeria.
Farmer/herder conflict and communal clashes have been widespread in the middle belt region for years and have now become an everyday event.
States affected by these crisis are Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Kaduna and Kogi amongst others.
The governor of one the affected states, Samuel Ortom of Benue, said on Monday only five of the 23 local government areas of the state have not recorded attacks by herders.
The group said the government has abdicated its constitutional duty of providing security. It lamented that no one had been made to account for the killings, as the authorities have instead been giving excuses and passing blames.
It said civil society members had decided to come together to set up a citizens’ initiative to help the affected communities.
“You are not alone, the injustice you suffer is our collective shame and pain,” the group assured the victims.
“As civil society, we thereby commit ourselves to action to address evidence gathering for possible accountability for mass atrocities in the Middle Belt of Nigeria as well as for humanitarian action to alleviate the suffering of the victims.
“For this purpose, we have resolved to establish a Nigeria CSO Crisis Action on the Middle Belt to explore collaborative and complementary options for constructive action on the crisis of mass killings in the region.”
The group demanded from the government an end to impunity, provision of humanitarian aid to communities displaced by the crisis, and an end to proliferation of small arms in the region and the country.
It also called for “an urgent accounting of the missing and dead and an estimation of the loss and to mobilise resources and partnership to make possible for people of good will to bring the crisis to an end.”
The group said it would organise a national day of mourning and remembrance later this month in memory of all the lives that have been lost, and called on Nigerians to participate in the event.
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