Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NIGERIA: Military believed to be complicit in attacks

From CSW 24/08/2011

In northern Nigeria, members of the military have been implicated in violent attacks against Christian communities. CSW speaks up against the continuing attacks.

Military accomplices in attacks

In the early hours of 15 August, nine people – including eight from the same family – were killed in the Heipang community of Plateau State. Members of the Nigerian military were implicated in the attack after four military identification documents were allegedly recovered at the scene.

There has been an escalation in violent attacks on villages in the state since 11 August, when three members of the same family were killed and another was injured following an attack by armed Hausa-Fulani tribesmen on Foron village in Barkin Ladi, only three kilometres from Heipang. During the early hours of 15 August, Foron was attacked for the second time. Three more villagers were killed, and according to unconfirmed reports, a military-issue helmet and blood-stained belt were found at the site. More recently,, armed attacks in the early hours of 21 August on Jol and Kwi villages in Riyom Local Government Area (LGA) left at least six people dead.

Special Task Force claim innocence in cruel attack

There have been a number of worrying reports regarding the conduct of members of the Special Task Force (STF) charged with maintaining peace in Plateau State, ranging from lack of intervention in raids on villages to suspected collusion of soldiers in the violence. According to unconfirmed reports, one of the victims in Heipang allegedly received a call from some STF men assigned to that area asking him to come out and assist them, only to be gunned down as he left his house. However, in a statement to the press, the spokesman for the STF claimed the man had been shot by the police after being mistaken for an attacker.

STF opens fire on female farmer protest

On 2 August CSW reported that members of the STF opened fire on a protest by hundreds of female farmers from Gyeri Village, 7km from Bukuru in Plateau State, wounding three of them. The farmers were protesting against the STF’s lack of intervention during attacks on over fourteen farms by machete-weilding Hausa-Fulani tribesmen. The attackers destroyed vital crops as they were ripening.

CSW claims “sad indictment on those in authority”

CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “The renewed increase in attacks on remote communities, coupled with reports of possible military collusion, continue to undermine any residual confidence in the STF to ensure peace and security in Plateau State. Consequently, many communities are now making alternative arrangements for their own protection. While this may be understandable given current circumstances, it is a sad indictment of those in authority, as ultimate responsibility for the protection of all citizens lies with state and federal authorities. A proliferation of vigilante groups is no replacement for effective law enforcement. CSW urges the federal and state governments to prioritise the unbiased enforcement of the rule of law in Plateau State, and to swiftly apprehend and prosecute any soldiers or civilians implicated in this appalling violence.”
We were in this area 70-82 and know these places well



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