Garba Shehu,Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, says Amnesty International gave a wrong impression about the origins of the farmers-herdsmen clashes.
He added that the Buhari administration has reduced the clashes between farmers and herders.
Shehu said this in statement while reacting to “Harvest of Death: Three years of bloody clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria”, a recent report by Amnesty International.
The organisation said a total of 3,641 Nigerians have been killed in clashes between herdsmen and farmers since 2016.
It blamed the deaths on “gross incompetence” on the part of the authorities and failure of security agencies to respond to warning signals.
But in a statement on Thursday, Shehu said it is untrue that the government has done nothing to stem the killings.
“Amnesty International got some of its facts wrong. It is not correct to state in any way that the problem between farmers and herders is a new thing over the last three years. It has been happening for over 100 years. Colonial Powers Britain and France had regularly recorded these conflicts which are available in archives,” he said in a statement.
“It is equally untrue that government has done nothing. Alleged human rights abuses have been investigated. Clashes have been reduced through government’s actions.
“This progress is due to the strong determination of the administration to punish rights violators no matter who they are, including the military through Orderly Room trials, Court Martials and the regular courts.
“This administration has given absolute freedom to the National Human Rights Commission and set an important record by paying compensation to the victims of the rights abuses.
“The Apo Six, for instance, had received compensation to the tune of N135 million. Just a few months back, the President signed the law against torture.”
Shehu said the government welcomes fair and constructive assessments aimed at dousing tension and promoting mutual communal confidence but rejects inflammatory statements.
“As part of a more comprehensive intervention and response to the violence and conflict, the Federal Government deployed security forces to affected areas, empanelled fact-finding missions, and repeated visits and engagement by the most senior government and security officials/special forces including the President as well as relocating command and control apparatus to such areas,” he said.
“Further, the National Economic Council established a 10-man Committee on farmers/herdsmen clashes, headed by the Vice President.
“These high-level security operations and attention have led to the arrest of many people responsible for perpetrating violence. As a result, relative calm and peace have been restored to many communities.
“There have been 500 arrests, with many convicted and as a result, relative peace and calm have been restored in many of the affected areas. Of particular note was the arrest and conviction of Alhaji Tashaku Aliyu and others who were apprehended in connection with the killing of 2 priests and 17 worshippers at St. Ignatius Catholic Church on April 24th, 2018 in Benue State.
“In addition, seven herdsmen that were involved in the kidnapping of a farm owner have been sentenced to life imprisonment by an Ondo state high court.”
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