Over 1,100 villagers killed by bandits in Nigeria in 2020: Amnesty
Over 1,100 people have been killed in rural areas across several states in northern Nigeria amid an alarming escalation in raids and kidnappings by armed bandits in the first half of the year, Amnesty International says.
“The Nigerian authorities have left rural communities at the mercy of rampaging gunmen who have killed at least 1,126 people in the north of the country since January,” the London-based rights group said in a new report on Monday.
Osai Ojigho, the director of Amnesty Nigeria, said the group had interviewed civilians in the states of Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara, who reported living in fear of attacks and abductions.
“Terrifying attacks on rural communities in the north of Nigeria have been going on for years.”
“The ongoing failure of security forces to take sufficient steps to protect villagers from these predictable attacks is utterly shameful.”
Ojigho decried reported abuse of civilians who asked for more official help and protection.
“In their response to these attacks, the Nigerian authorities have displayed gross incompetence and a total disregard for people's lives,” he said. “Arresting people who dare to ask for help is a further blow.”
The killings in clashes between herders and farming communities for access to land have been recurrent for several years.
In Katsina, at least 33,130 people were living in displacement camps, while others have headed to urban areas to stay with relatives.
Amnesty blamed both state authorities and the federal government for failing to protect the population.
The escalating violence has forced many farmers and their families from their homes while thousands could not cultivate their farms during the rainy season of 2020 because of fear of attacks or abduction, according to Amnesty.
Northwestern Nigeria has been wracked by years of violence involving clashes between rival communities over land, attacks by heavily-armed criminal gangs and reprisal killings by vigilante groups.
Cattle rustling and kidnapping for ransom have also flourished in the security vacuum.
The government has so far failed in halting unrest that has killed an estimated 8,000 people since 2011 and displaced 200,000.
Nigeria is already struggling to contain insurgencies by Boko Haram Takfiri terrorists in the northeast, conflicts in central states, and militant groups in the Niger Delta to the southeast.