Group Says Amnesty’s Report Is Inciting, Inchoate And Misleading

A political group in Nigeria has described an Amnesty International(AI) report on the farmers – herders clashes in the country as inciting, inchoate and misleading, stressing that the agency was by its report rejoicing and glorifying violence in Nigeria.

The Initiative to Save Democracy (ISD) stated that the report failed to consider a broad and historical view of the crisis, but deliberately limited the scope of its report from January 2016 to 2018 to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting readers.

President of the group, James Akinloye said that by considering only these two years the content of the report was inconclusive and thus misleading as the herders – farmers clashes predates the period under review and readers would be deliberately misled to think the crisis started only within the last three years. 

The group went further to state that the title of the report HARVEST OF DEATHS was a clear indication that Amnesty International had ulterior motives and was seeking to incite violence in the country. 

“To title a report Harvest of Deaths is not just insensitive but also wicked. It is an attempt by Amnesty International to push for unrest in the country at a time when the country is already enjoying relative peace. The content of the report only seeks to open healing wounds. No responsible agency fighting for human rights titles its report Harvest of Death. Such a nomenclature is a mockery of the dead to start with.

“It is also ill-timed. Two months to an election is not the time to put out a report on a very sensitive subject- matter except one has a motive that is egregiously wicked and prejudiced,”  Akinloye said.

The ISD noted that the release of the report two months to an election suggests either sponsorship of its activities by members of the opposition party or an outright intention by the Amnesty International to influence the voting posture of Nigerians during the elections.

Akinloye argued that where a foreign body does a thing like this, it is investigated for election interference and a possible ban from the country.

He went further to note that: “the Amnesty report deliberately omitted a very significant arrest in the herders – farmers clashes; that is the arrest of Aliyu Tashaku who was the mastermind of most of the killings in Benue state which were masqueraded as clashes.

“The report falsely kept rehashing that government had not acted or arrested any persons, while failing to acknowledge the arrest of several Fulani herdsmen who were involved in killings and were being tried in courts in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and Plateau States. This reveals the bias of Amnesty International and its agenda to plunge Nigeria into violence. It also failed to acknowledge the role of several militia groups in the region, many of whom had been arrested by government security agencies.”

Mr Akinloye stated that in the last 4 months most of the communities in the North Central had been experiencing relative peace due to the efforts of the government including the bringing to justice of perpetrators of the heinous killings. 

He further noted that the killings fell by over 90% in Benue State after the arrest of Alhaji Aliyu Tashaku who was reported to have been behind most of the killings in the state.

ISD noted that the government had done a lot and Nigerians were not blind to their efforts, it further called on the security agencies to increase their efforts to ensure a more peaceful country.

Mr Akinloye also added that the security agencies should, while investigating the many claims of Amnesty International, also investigate the body itself as it may be financed by persons seeking to distabilise the country

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BMO Dismisses Amnesty’s Report As Mischievous, Hatchet Job

The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has accused Amnesty International (AI) of carrying out a hatchet job for the opposition in the run up to the 2019 general elections. 

This, it says, is obvious with the release of a report titled ‘Harvest of Deaths’ which focused on Herders-Farmers clash in the last three years, but which was tilted to make it look like the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari did little or nothing to stem the tide of violence.

BMO said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that AI was out to send out subtle message to eligible voters in a report that was expertly made to appear balanced.

“It is also suspicious that Amnesty International went to great lengths to establish what we have always known- that herders’ communities had also been victims of a mindless orgy of violence over land and grazing routes.

“Could it have to do with the fact that the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is also a member of the same Fulani ethnic stock like the President?

“But it is mischievous to create the impression that the conflict is either a three-year old conflict or that it was worse in the last three years.”

BMO also questioned the real intention of Amnesty International in releasing its report barely two months to the election. 

“If the rights’ watchdog meant well for Nigeria, it should have released the report at a time some Nigerians felt that it was a one-way attack by Fulani herdsmen on innocent farming communities because of the ethnic identity of President Buhari.

“This would have served to correct that impression, but not at a time of relative peace in virtually all the states listed in the report.

“Could it be that Amnesty is bent on stoking the dying embers of the conflict in those states?

“Or why has a group that is meant to be interested in peaceful co-existence not opted to focus on what the government had done right to manage the century-long conflicts between farmers and herdsmen.” 

It added that the report is on one hand a continuation of Amnesty International’s gripe against Nigeria in recent times, and on the other hand an affirmation of what its management has always said in spite of information to the contrary.

“The report is a product of a pre-conceived notion which AI just used witnesses to back up. For instance AI’s country Director Osai Ojigho had in a February 2018 interview in ‘The Cable’ claimed that ‘despite the fact that this has been going on for a long time, can we point out one or two cases where people have been arrested, persecuted and fully went through the course of the law to ensure justice’.

“If it operated with an unbiased mindset, Amensty would have known that a 15-year-old Fulani herdsman, Haruna Usman was sentenced to death for killing a farmer in Kogi in 2017; just as another court in Adamawa handed down the death sentence to five young men for killing a herdsmen also in 2017.

“All these happened before Ms Ojigho’s interview where she was emphatic that there had been no arrests and prosecution of people on both sides of the conflict”.

“The report gave chilling account of how people including two catholic priests were killed in Benue state but was silent on the prosecution of the suspects in a report that painted a picture of little or no arrest or prosecution.

“More surprising is that the AI report conveniently left out the fact that security forces arrested and are prosecuting six suspects including the commander of the state Livestock Guard Tahaku Aliyu in connection with the April 24, 2018 killing.

“The Police made the arrests within a few weeks and as at May 31, the suspects were facing trial but Amnesty International conveniently omitted it from a report which concluded that security agencies and the government are not doing enough to prosecute suspects.

“In addition, the Police have recovered 9,657 illegal firearms and ammunition from suspected militias, armed herdsmen and farmers in a nationwide mop-up exercise. 

“The Army, on its part, launched full scale military operations in Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kaduna and Niger states which led to the death of scores of militant herdsmen and several arrests.”

The Pro-Buhari group consequently urged well-meaning Nigerians to view the latest report with suspicion, especially as the government is not only taking steps to mop up illegal weapons, but  is also putting in place confidence-building mechanisms that have significantly reduced tension in the affected states.

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Harvest of Death: APYF Replies Amnesty International, Warns Against Undermining Peace In Nigeria

Our attention has been drawn to a report on the farmers-herders clashes launched by Amnesty International Nigeria on Monday in Abuja. The report, tagged “Harvest of Death” captured only three years (2015-2018) of the decade long conflict, but cynically and deliberately ignored reports from previous years.

The attack by Fulani herdsmen did not start in 2015 as reported by Amnesty International. Between July 2012 and June 2015, suspected herdsmen wreaked havoc on villages in Benue and Plateau States which led to the death of Senator Gyang Dantong and the Majority Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Mr. Gyang Fulani.
On April 23, 2013: 10 farmers were killed in an attack in Mbasenge community, Guma L0cal Government Area of Benue State, by suspected herdsmen; on July 5, 2013: 20 people were killed in a conflict between Tiv farmers & herdsmen at Nzorov, Guma LGA; on November 7, 2013: attackers strike at Ikpele & Okpopolo communities killing 7 and displacing over 6000 inhabitants, and many more.

It is worthy of note that the inability of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to find a lasting solution to the killings led to President Muhammadu Buhari inheriting the menace which has then spread to other local government areas and communities in Benue, Taraba, and Plateau States. Fortunately, Nigerians elected a President capable of nipping the conflict in the bud.

Contrary to what is stated in the report by Amnesty International that “little has been done to prevent, arrest and prosecute,” the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has arrested and prosecuted some numbers of suspected militia herders which include the Commander of Livestock Guard. Alhaji Tashaku Aliyu, and Haruna Usman. Seven Fulani herdsmen that were invlolved in the kidnap of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation have been sentenced to life imprisonment by an Ondo State High Court.

Troops on AYEM Akpatuma exercise arrested among others, two persons, Danasebe Gasama and Danjuma, aka “American”, in connection with the killings of Takum and Ussa local government areas of Taraba state. Troops of the 93 battalion of the Nigerian army stationed in Tukum, Taraba State, arrested nine well-armed militia from Benue, claiming to be members of government sponsored security volunteers.

Aside these arrests and prosecution, the Nigerian Customs Service under the able leadership of Hameed Ali, intercepted 470 pump action rifles imported from Turkey.

That Amnesty International will in a misleading manner go ahead to release a report saying “government failures fuel escalating conflict between farmers & herders” is unacceptable.

Where was Amnesty International when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, paid a visit to Benue state to assess the situation of the state particularly the displacement of people? On June 25, 2018, Vice President Osinbajo, visited Plateau State to condole with the people, and held meetings with community leaders and initiated a reconciliation process? Also on June 26, President Muhammadu Buhari, visited Plateau State and assured everyone of a long lasting resolution to the crisis.

We feel compelled to remind Amnesty International of the N10bn fund approved by President Muhamamdu Buhari for rehabilitation of farms and farming communities in Benue and Nasarawa States, and has also been made available to Plateau State. That fund is to enable farmers who have lost farmlands to the conflict go back to their farms and provide whatever assistance is required.

So far, the federal government has implemented the permanent positioning of security agencies in certain communities that are prone to these type of violence. The Nigerian Military has also deployed additional Special Forces to support OPERATION SAFE HAVEN in Plateau State. Additional security units have also been set up in Benue State with large deployment of special intervention force to flash point areas in Benue State.

It is therefore important to state here that the cynical and self-serving report of the amnesty international is aimed at dividing us as a nation and undermine the relative improvement and peace sustained in the troubled areas. Whatever the aim of their report is, we are confident that Nigerians won’t buy into their plot to give life to a virus that has long ceased to exist.

We again reiterate that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is committed to serving the people of Nigeria, and will stop at nothing to sustain lasting peace enjoyed in every parts of the country.

Signed:

Alwan Hassan
For: All Progressives Youth Forum

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Amnesty International Commends FG Over Trial of Suspected Boko Haram Terrorists

Amnesty International Nigeria has commended the Federal Government over the trial of suspected Boko Haram terrorists, describing the ongoing trial as ”good progress for the justice sector”.

The commendation was contained in a letter addressed to the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), by Osai Ojigho, Country Director, Amnesty International Nigeria, a copy of which was made available to the office of the Minister of Information and Culture.

Amnesty International Nigeria said its delegates, who were invited to observe the proceedings at the third phase of the trial at Wawa Military Cantonment, Kainji, New Bussa, Niger State, 8-11 July, 2018, ”were treated with respect and decorum”.

”Amnesty International has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the attacks by members of Boko Haram. We have repeatedly urged the Nigerian government to conduct thorough and independent investigations into the alleged human rights violations and abuses, with a view to bringing suspected perpetrators to justice in a fair trial without recourse to the death penalty and this indeed is a good progress for the justice sector,” the global rights campaigner said.

Amnesty International Nigeria expressed the hope that it will also be invited to observe future trials.

Commenting on the letter, Mr. Malami said it was a ”clear demonstration of the strategic role of the Federal Ministry of Justice and its commitment in adjudicating terrorism cases, implementing the Criminal Justice Act, and promoting the rule of law and human rights”.
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Amnesty International Human Rights Report On Nigeria Untrue – FG

Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, has said Amnesty International’s human rights verdict on Nigerian government is not true.
He also submitted that the protection of human rights is a cardinal objective of the Buhari Administration, and that the violation of rights is not and cannot be a government policy.
Addressing a High-Level Roundtable organized by the Atlantic Council, an American think tank on international affairs, in Washington, DC, the Minister said the picture of “impunity and complete disregard for extant laws and international obligations painted by Amnesty International”, in a recent report, was not a true reflection of the character and ethics of the Government of Nigeria or any of its agencies.
Since the counter-insurgency war started in 2009, Amnesty International has issued periodic reports on alleged human rights violations by the Nigerian military, with the latest of such reports bordering on violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Law by the Nigerian Armed Forces and other government agencies.
Mr.Mohammed told the Roundtable that the government had taken several measures to address human rights violation in the course of the counter-insurgency operations.
These measures, it said, included the establishment of Human Rights Desks in all military formations; the quarterly Human Rights/Military Dialogue; Training on Mainstreaming Human Rights into Counter-Insurgency Operations and Court Martials of officers indicted
for human rights violations.
”Very soon, the Federal Government will adopt a National Policy on the Protection of Civilians in conflict situations to further strengthen and entrench its constitutional practice of Protection of Civilians,” he said.
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FG Debunks Amnesty International Report On ‘Security Votes’

The federal government has described as untrue, a report released by Amnesty International (AI), which alleged that the Presidency has widened its security votes’ net.

Addressing reporters during the breakdown of the 2018 Budget after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Appropriation Bill into law on Wednesday, Budget & National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, denied claims that the Presidency was siphoning money out of the system using security votes.

His words: “There is no line item classified as Security Vote in the State House budget in the N9.1 trillion 2018 Appropriation Act. The international watchdog got its facts wrong”

“Owing to the growing number of internal security issues, a provision of N75 billion was made for these exercises in the Service-wide votes, not State House vote, in 2018,” Udoma said.

The minister denied an Amnesty International (AI) report titled “Camouflaged cash: How ‘Security Votes’ fuel corruption in Nigeria”, which ”indicated, in part, that the Presidency is not only appropriating but “has increased the number of security votes tucked into the Federal Budget in the last two years.”

In a response to reporters’ questions during the briefing in Abuja, the minister said: “There is no line item as Security vote in the State House Budget.”

According to him, “provisions for security-related matters are contained in the detailed Budgets of the Ministry of Defence, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Department of State Security (DSS) etc.”

“There are also provisions for military interventions in the Northeast (insurgency) – Operation Lafiya Dole, as well as other specific operations of the Armed forces such as Operation Python DanceOperation Crocodile Smile and very recently and Operation Cat Race, among others”, Udoma said.

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Amnesty International Accuse Lagos Govt Of Forceful Eviction Of 30,000 People From Settlements

Over 30,000 people have been forcibly evicted from settlements in Lagos State in defiance of court orders. That is according to Amnesty International Nigeria.

In a new report titled, “The Human Cost of a Megacity: Forced Evictions of the Urban Poor in Lagos, Nigeria”, Amnesty International detailed repeated forced evictions of the Otodo-Gbame and Ilubirin communities carried out since March 2016.

These evictions, according to it, were carried out without consultation, adequate notice, compensation or even alternative housing for the evicted residents.

At least 11 people are said to have died and 17 others disappeared as the bulldozers moved in, backed up by police and unidentified men armed with machetes, guns and axes.

Schools and a health clinic were razed and residents were forced into canoes to flee tear gas and live bullets.

Amnesty’s country director, Osai Ojigho, said residents at the well-established informal settlements — most of them impoverished fisherfolk — had lost everything.

“The Lagos state authorities must halt these attacks on poor communities who are being punished for the state’s urban planning failures,” she said.

“The instability and uncertainty created by forced evictions is making their lives a misery as they are left completely destitute.”

 

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