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Presidency Reacts To Amnesty International’s Report

Below is a press statement sent to politicsNGR by the Presidency;

The
first thing to say about Amnesty International’s Report: Setting the
Record Straight is to thank the organisation for confirming a fact
stated time and again by President Muhammadu Buhari that the conflict
between herders and farmers in Nigeria is not about religion.

There
is equally a confirmation by Amnesty International (AI) that it is
being stoked by local politicians and that this whole problem is about
scarcity of resources.

Beyond these, the report has raised our
concerns about the validity of their evidence-gathering. It is like
knowing the facts but drawing the wrong conclusions.

Still,
Amnesty International got some of its facts wrong. It is not correct to
state in any way that the problem between farmers and herders is a new
thing over the last three years. It has been happening for over 100
years. Colonial Powers Britain and France had regularly recorded these
conflicts which are available in Archives.

It is equally untrue
that government has done nothing. Alleged human rights abuses have been
investigated. Clashes have been reduced through government’s actions.

This
progress is due to the strong determination of the administration to
punish rights violators no matter who they are, including the military
through Orderly Room trials, Court Martials and the regular courts.

This
administration has given absolute freedom to the National Human Rights
Commission and set an important record by paying compensation to the
victims of the rights abuses. The Apo Six, for instance, had received
compensation to the tune of N135 million. Just a few months back, the
President signed the law against torture.

In an interim report in October this year, the International Criminal Court, ICC, stated that:

“The
Nigerian authorities appear to have taken concrete steps in fulfilling
their primary responsibility of investigating and prosecuting ICC
crimes. While there seem to be a tangible prospect of further
proceedings against members of Boko Haram including high level
commanders, at this time, the same cannot be said of NSF in particular
since the Nigerian authorities deny any allegations against the latter.”

Every
country experiencing any level of insecurity or insurgency either as a
matter of external aggression, or even more sensitively, internal
conflict is confronted with complex and sensitive issues. Nigeria is no
exception.

The government is very much concerned about the sad
and unfortunate loss of lives and properties, and the collateral
broken/threatened communal relationships and societal mutual trust
occasioned by attacks our nation has experienced.

As a nation, we
remain unrelenting in securing our country, and restoring peace in
troubled areas. Although the complications that attend internal
conflicts are present in Nigeria, the courage to confront both the
conflicts and their complexities remain a matter of priority to this
Administration.

Indeed, reputable global organisations have
recognised that the efforts of our security forces, who work tirelessly
to secure our communities, are yielding results. An example of this is
the recently published Global Terrorism Index Report, 2018, which
acknowledged the effectiveness of Nigeria’s counter-insurgency
operations, stating that:

“Total deaths from terrorism in Nigeria
fell to 1,532 in 2017, a decrease of 16 per cent from the prior year.
The decline follows the 63 per cent drop in deaths in Nigeria in the
preceding year, and a 34 per cent drop in 2015. This highlights the
effectiveness of the counter-insurgency operations undertaken in Nigeria
and its neighbours, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.”

Curiously, the
Amnesty International report, “Harvest of Death: three years of bloody
clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria”, appears to be
inconsistent with the Report above. Global Terrorism Index Report is
considered a credible source even for Amnesty International covering the
same period and the same terrain.

However Amnesty International
in addition to stating inaccurate casualty figures misleadingly alleges
that the government has failed to protect affected communities and
refused to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators of these
attacks. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This
administration has continued to work ceaselessly to enhance security in
affected parts of the country, ensure that victims are provided with
relief, and that criminals are arrested and prosecuted. It is careless
and mischievous to misrepresent the facts and thereby mislead the
public.

Our security forces are not going to be deterred, neither
will their morale and effort be affected by any tendentious report that
mischaracterizes the important sacrifice they make to protect citizens
at great risk of injury or death.

It is the global norm and
custom that assessors and commentators are fair and factual in their
reportage and accounts of incidents and situations so that they do not
endanger the lives of security personnel or worsen conflicts.
Nonetheless, our security forces will continue to intensify ongoing and
new multi-pronged approaches to conflict resolution.

The Federal
Government welcomes fair and constructive assessments aimed at dousing
tension and promoting mutual communal confidence, safety and security,
but rejects inflammatory statements, reports or assessments that stoke
tension and deepen mistrust and thereby intensify conflicts and
violence.

As part of a more comprehensive intervention and
response to the violence and conflict, the Federal Government deployed
security forces to affected areas, empanelled fact-finding missions, and
repeated visits and engagement by the most senior government and
security officials/special forces including the President as well as
relocating command and control apparatus to such areas. Further, the
National Economic Council established a 10-man Committee on
farmers/herdsmen clashes, headed by the Vice President.

These
high-level security operations and attention have led to the arrest of
many people responsible for perpetrating violence. As a result, relative
calm and peace have been restored to many communities. There have been
500 arrests, with many convicted and as a result, relative peace and
calm have been restored in many of the affected areas. Of particular
note was the arrest and conviction of Alhaji Tashaku Aliyu and others
who were apprehended in connection with the killing of 2 priests and 17
worshippers at St. Ignatius Catholic Church on April 24th, 2018 in Benue
State. In addition, seven herdsmen that were involved in the kidnapping
of a farm owner have been sentenced to life imprisonment by an Ondo
State High Court.

Beyond the security measures, President
Muhammadu Buhari also authorized a mechanism and released NGN10 Billion
for the rehabilitation of farms and farming communities to provide
relief to affected areas. During a visit to Nasarawa State in February
2018, the President also reiterated his condemnation of the violent
conflicts and their perpetrators and his administration’s commitment to
protecting citizens and mitigating their losses. He said:

“I also
want to assure the people of the North Central and indeed all Nigerians
that the federal government is working day and night to ensure peace
and stability return. We have deployed additional resources to all the
affected areas to maintain law and order. The attacks by suspected
herdsmen and other bandits will not be tolerated. I appeal to all
Nigerians to refrain from reprisal attacks. The security agencies have
standing instructions to arrest and prosecute any persons found with
illegal arms. I will once again express my condolences and sympathy to
all the affected victims of these barbaric acts,’’

This position
was again reiterated by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in June
2018 during his visit to Plateau State, where he held meetings with
community leaders and condoled with the people.

A vital component
of our successes or any success in similar conflicts is accurate
reporting and credible intelligence. We encourage reporters to be
accurate and citizens to provide information about known or even
suspicious activities or persons to ensure we succeed in preventing
attacks, and eliminating this scourge.

Finally, and in the
interest of openness, the Federal Ministry of Justice is analysing the
Amnesty International Report for further responses, and actions where
applicable and necessary.

The Federal Government also appeals to
communities not to be provoked or inflamed by this misleading report to
seek or pursue reprisal action against others within their communities,
but to remain assured that the government will continue to take steps to
secure citizens and promote amicable conflict resolution as well as
peaceful co-existence.

Source:- Politicsngr

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