The UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Nderitu, on Thursday, condemned the 24 January airstrike in which at least 27 herders, mainly ethnic Fulani, were killed in the Doma Local Government of Nasarawa state, North-central Nigeria
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the police in the state said 27 pastoralists were killed in the airstrike, but Fulani groups claim 40 people were killed and scores of other civilians were injured.
They were killed while returning from Benue State, after reclaiming their livestock seized by the Benue State Government.
Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule, said the incident is under investigation. The Nigeria Air Force is yet to comment on the development, its spokesperson, Wapkerem Maigida, didn’t respond to phone calls to speak about the bombing allegedly carried out by an air force bomber.
Ms Nderitu expressed concern over worsening security in Nigeria while urging the authorities to ensure counter-terrorism operations are conducted in line with international human rights and humanitarian law.
She recalled that another airstrike in 2017 resulted in 54 civilian casualties at a camp for displaced persons in Borno State.
Ms Nderitu was particularly concerned about the situation in the North-west and North-central regions of Nigeria, where the air attacks took place.
“These dynamics of targeting communities along identity lines, if unaddressed, risk further fuelling inter-communal tensions, recruitment by armed groups and retaliatory attacks, with an obvious impact on civilians,” she added.
The Special Adviser said the worsening security situation in Nigeria is characterised by the politicisation of transhumance, movement of livestock for grazing, and increasing divisions among communities, including stigmatisation along religious and ethnic lines.
Warning ahead of elections
“In this extremely volatile environment, it is important that the general elections scheduled to be held on 25 February 2023 do not trigger violence and even atrocity crimes,” she warned.
Ms Nderitu also underlined concern for increasing trends of hate speech along identity lines, and incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence that permeates political discourse in the country.
She called on all political leaders to abide by a peace accord they signed that includes a commitment to peaceful campaigns.
Ms Nderitu also expressed concern over the manipulation of transhumance in political discourse, across the whole of West Africa and the vast Sahel region.
READ ALSO: UN warns against worsening security situation in Nigeria
“Continuous high levels of violence targeting communities about transhumance, including with hate speech and incitement to violence, are particularly concerning given upcoming elections in many countries in the region,” she said.
The UN official appealed for urgent action to address conflicts, prevent atrocity crimes and allow for peaceful elections to take place.
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