NIGERIA’S conflict situation has been described as one that gives cause for extreme concern by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial and Arbitrary Executions, Agnes Callamard.
Having just completed an official tour of the country that lasted between August 19 and September 3, Ms Callamard said that the government and international partners are presiding over an injustice-pressure cook. During her visit, she examined situations of violations of the right to life by state and non-state actors, the federal state security strategy and the responses at federal and state level to allegations of arbitrary deprivation of life.
Ms Callamard said: “The overall situation that I encountered in Nigeria gives rise to extreme concern. By many measures, the federal authorities and the international partners are presiding over an injustice-pressure cooker and some of the specific contexts I examined are simmering.”
“The warning signs are flashing bright red with increased numbers of attacks and killings over the last five years, increased criminality and spreading insecurity and the widespread failure by the federal authorities to investigate and hold perpetrators to account, even for mass killings. There is a lack of public trust and confidence in the judicial institutions and state institutions more generally.
“There are high levels of resentment and grievances within and between communities, toxic ethno-religious narratives and extremist ideologies characterised by the dehumanisation of the others and the denial of the legitimacy of the others’ claims. There is also a generalised breakdown of the rule of law, with particularly acute consequences for the most vulnerable and impoverished populations of Nigeria.”
Furthermore, she observed that a weak rule of law and its brewing crisis are intertwined coming on top of a nationwide population explosion and increased rates of extreme poverty which characterises the reality for roughly half of the Nigerian population. This Ms Callamard said is exacerbated by the spreading environmental degradation and desertification evident throughout West Africa.
According to the UN, it is also fed by the increasing proliferation of small and military-grade weapons made readily available as a result of regional instability originating from as far north as the Libyan conflicts. Ms Callamard said these nationwide and broader regional pressures applied against Nigeria’s diverse eco-political-economic systems are producing localised systems and country-wide patterns of violence, many of which are seemingly spinning out of control.
Her report read: “They are claiming the lives of thousands and include, for instance, arbitrary killings in the context of the military conflict in the north of the country against Boko Haram and splinter groups, the conflict in the Middle Belt, along with some parts in the northwest and south between Fulani herdsmen and farming communities belonging to various ethnic groups, cultism in the oil-producing south-states and other well-organised criminal gangs. There are also local militias engaged in mining and cattle rustling in the northwest, particularly Zamfara, the repression of the Indigenous People of Biafra, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People.”
Ms Callamard suggested that the government and the international community need to prioritise the situation in the Nigeria adding that arbitrary killings cannot be condoned. She added that there must be a real plan in case of the police killings and the conflict in the Middle Belt and Fulani herders’ farmers must be prioritized as fast as possible because it is spreading fast.