Amnesty says 168 killed in Nigeria clashes

More than 168 people have been killed in clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria in January, Amnesty International reports

The clashes took place in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Ondo and Kaduna states.

Amnesty International said on its website on Tuesday that the Nigerian authorities’ response to communal violence "is totally inadequate, too slow and ineffective, and in some cases unlawful’’.

“The government must totally overturn its response to these deadly clashes to avoid this crisis getting out of control.

"They need to investigate and bring suspects to justice,” said Amnesty International Nigeria Director Osai Ojigho.

“Hundreds of people lost their lives last year, and the government is still not doing enough to protect communities from these violent clashes. Worse, the killers are getting away with murder.”

Although authorities have denied the claims, Amnesty International reported that on December 4, 2017, Nigeria’s air force fired rockets as a “warning” to deter spiralling communal violence, as hundreds of herdsmen attacked at least five villages in Adamawa state to avenge the massacre of up to 51 members of their community.

Amnesty International said its team visited the villages in the aftermath of the air raids and gathered witness testimony from residents who described being attacked by a fighter jet and a military helicopter as they attempted to flee.

“Launching air raids is not a legitimate law enforcement method by anyone’s standard. Such reckless use of deadly force is unlawful, outrageous and lays bare the Nigerian military’s shocking disregard for the lives of those it supposedly exists to protect,” said Mr Ojigho.

Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian air force – which has received intensive training from the UK and US militaries in recent years –to hand over the footage of the incident and all related information to the authorities.

“This is unlawful and excessive force on a catastrophic scale. It is yet another tragic example where Nigeria’s armed forces are found applying deadly military tactics to law enforcement situations,” said Mr Ojigho.

Amnesty alleged that the air raids occurred in the villages of Lawaru, Dong, Kodomti, Shafaron and Nzuruwei, quoting 15 witnesses.

Locals in each village also provided Amnesty International with lists of the dead, which totalled 86 names and about 3,000 homes destroyed.

Video footage shot by Amnesty International shows the widespread destruction of homes reduced to rubble, twisted metal and ash in areas where the villagers said the rockets landed.

Amnesty International’s team also filmed shrapnel gathered by villagers.

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