Nigeria Politics

We’re not sabotaging your efforts, Amnesty International replies Nigerian Army

In less than a week, Nigeria’s military has railed against two major international organizations operating in the country.

On Friday (Dec. 14), the military banned operations by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria’s volatile northeast claiming the agency spied for Boko Haram terrorists operating in the region.

The army claimed UNICEF staff were sabotaging its counter-terrorism efforts by alleging human rights abuses by the military. But in a swift turnaround just a few hours later—reportedly due to high-level diplomatic talks involving the UN and the United States—the army lifted its ban on the agency.

With the dust over that spat yet to settle, the military has now alleged Amnesty International, the human rights group, is out to “destabilize” and “dismember” Nigeria. The army’s grouse is linked to a new Amnesty International report which claims security forces ”did nothing to stop or prevent” violent attacks in clashes in the country’s middle belt region between farmers and herdsmen despite receiving tips to alert them.

Human rights group, Amnesty International, has debunked the claim by the Nigerian military.. Amnesty International Nigeria Chair, Auwal Rafsanjani, stated the position of the organisation on Monday at the unveiling of its report, “Harvest of Death: Three Years of Bloody Clashes Between Farmers and Herders”, at Reiz Continental Hotel in Abuja.

”My response to the military threat to shut down Amnesty International or any human right organisation operating in Nigeria is that it is not the solution to the negligence or the failure to the untimely response to the issue of human rights and providing security for Nigeria,” Mr Rafsanjani said.

”We are not a threat, we are not joining issues with anybody, we are not agents of destruction and we are not a politically-motivated organisation,” he added.

Mr Rafsanjani stressed that his group is not a threat to anyone as it is not a political organisation.

”Amnesty is not engaging in sabotage, but to help in ending the violence in the country.

”We would advise the military to look at the recommendations we have made to the government and address them,” he added.

”Your right can be protected today, that same right can be violated tomorrow and if you do not have a voice to speak on behalf of the voiceless, there would be a problem.

Mr Rafsanjani also said the perpetrators of political impunity and corruption at all levels in the country would not want the violence to end.

The army spokesperson, Sani Usman, in a statement on Monday alleged Amnesty International had engaged in clandestine sponsorship of dissident groups to protest, as well as make unfounded allegations against the leadership of the Nigerian military.

But Mr Rafsanjani said Amnesty International only want individuals at high levels to work together to end the killings in Nigeria.

”Amnesty just wants the government together with security agencies, religious leaders and community leaders to work together and end the violence,” he said, adding that, ”The herder crises is not acceptable.”

”Government at all levels has failed to take permanent and proactive measures. Rather than allow it to happen, why not prevent it. Prevention is better than cure.

”Sometimes some of the government officials are just quick in dismissing the findings rather than study some of these reports so as to be able to take proactive measures

”As a matter of fact, some of the government officials at the local, state and national government rather than them protecting these victims they indulge in all sort of political games with the lives of Nigerians and they are clearly mismanaging the use of security vote.

”And because of what the state governors are getting, they would not want this violence to end.

”Many of them get these early warning because these attacks do not just happen, there are signs, avoidance to do that has caused a lot of criminal activity,” he concluded.

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