Less than 24 hours after an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and immediate past deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Timi Frank dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to United Nations over Plateau Killings, the Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres has expressed concern over violent conflicts between farmers and herders in the country.
The UN chief, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, while responding to Frank’s open letter had called on all concerned governments, regional organisations, civil society and other relevant actors to work together to find acceptable and lasting solutions to the conflicts.
Guterres, after receiving the letter described the trend as being detrimental to regional stability, adding that UN was ready to support national and regional efforts to resolve disputes between farmers and herders.
The statement had partly read:
“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the increasing frequency, intensity, complexity and geographic scope of violent conflict between farmers and herders, as well as related banditry, extortion and cattle rustling, in several countries across West and Central Africa.
“He condemns the resulting loss of life, property and livelihoods, as well as population displacement, which undermines peaceful coexistence between communities in many of the affected countries.
“It is also detrimental to regional stability.
“The Secretary-General stresses that all attacks targeting civilians violate international humanitarian law.
“He urges all concerned governments, regional organisations, civil society and other relevant actors to work together to find acceptable and lasting solutions to these conflicts, in full compliance with existing regional regulatory frameworks and international humanitarian and human rights law.
“The Secretary-General expresses the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and governments of the affected countries.
“He reiterates the readiness and commitment of the United Nations to support national and regional efforts to resolve disputes between farmers and herders.”
On its part, the Director Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, stated in a report released on Thursday that its independently verified estimated figures indicated that since January 2018 “at least 1,813 people had been murdered in 17 states, which is double the 894 people killed in 2017.”
He said, “The death tolls reflect killings as a result of farmers-herders conflict, communal clashes, Boko Haram attacks and banditry.
“We are gravely concerned about the rising spate of killings across the country, especially the communal clashes between farmers and herders and attacks by bandits across at least 17 states.
“The authorities have a responsibility to protect lives and property, but they are clearly not doing enough going by what is happening.”
But commending Amnesty International and UN’s response to his letter, in a statement made available to journalists on Friday, Timi Frank said it is a clear indication that both international organisations are alive to their responsibility.
“Your quick response shows that you are alive to responsibilities and your pledge to work with relevant stakeholders to stop the pogrom gladdens my hear to no small measure.
“I crave your indulgence to also use this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Amnesty International (AI) for speaking up, over the killings and validating the reports of victims that security agencies often refuse to respond to distress calls despite the attacks taking place for hours,” he said.
The Bayelsa-born politician, however, argued that reactions gotten from both AI and UN about the present government being led by President Muhammadu Buhari has vindicated leaders of both legislative chambers, Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara respectively.
He added that it has buttressed his point that Nigerians have lost confidence in Security chiefs.
“I must say that the verdict of the UN and AI,” he stated, “has practically vindicated the President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, over the vote of no confidence earlier passed on the Inspector-General of Police by the National Assembly.
“I dare say that the call for the sack of the Nation’s security chiefs, over poor performance and complicity, is no longer about the National Assembly’s vote of no confidence on the Inspector -General of Police.”