The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the United Nations (UN) to urgently declare attacks by herdsmen in Nigeria as acts of terrorism.
In an open letter to the UN Security Council and its members, SERAP urged them to urgently hold a special session on Nigereia and to visit the country to press the authorities to end continuing killings and destruction of property by suspected herdsmen, particularly in the north-central of the country.
The organisation also asked the Council to treat the atrocities by herdsmen as terrorist acts, in line with the UN Security Council resolution 2349 (2017), which addresses Boko Haram’s presence in the Lake Chad Basin and calls on all states to combat all forms and manifestations of terrorism.
“Declaring attacks by herdsmen as terrorist acts would help make up the authorities to seriously address the threats posed by herdsmen and combat the crimes against humanity being committed against Nigerians,” said SERAP.
In the letter dated Friday, March 16, 2018 and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Timothy Adewale, the organisation expressed serious concern that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is failing to uphold its responsibility to protect the citizens from increasing atrocities by the herdsmen which, if not urgently addressed, would pose serious threat to regional peace and security and, by extension, international peace and security.
“The Security Council must act now to protect Nigerians, including women and children, if the Council is not to be accused of failing the people of Nigeria,” declared SERAP.
The organisation said further: “The attacks by herdsmen have uprooted families, destroyed communities’ socio-economic activities, and taken away their livelihoods and common heritage. These attacks undermine the very purposes and principles of the UN Charter. If not urgently combatted, such attacks may rise to the level of threat to international peace and security. SERAP notes that the first ‘purpose’ listed for the UN is to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace.”
The letter reads in part: “SERAP urges the Security Council and its members to publicly condemn these terrorist attacks, express concern about the protection of Nigerians and communities affected by the violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and press the authorities to put in place special mechanisms for bringing those suspected to be responsible to justice, and victims to receive redress, including adequate compensation and guarantee of non-repetition.
“The Security Council and its members should reaffirm that terrorism of all forms and manifestations, such as the growing attacks by herdsmen in Nigeria, are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations. They should also recognise that security, development and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing and are vital to an effective and comprehensive approach to countering all forms of terrorism in Nigeria.
“The Security Council and its members should adopt a resolution to: Characterise killings by herdsmen as terrorist acts and mobilise international support for Nigeria to combat these attacks, including for the authorities to adopt and implement measures to tackle the causes and consequences of these attacks and end all forms of terrorism in the country.
“The resolution should also call on the UN Secretary-General to carry out a joint visit to Nigeria with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and the African Union Peace and Security Council to investigate allegations of killings by herdsmen and to better understand the root causes of these killings and put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to end them.
“The resolution should express concern that unabated killings by herdsmen may ultimately contribute to undermining the ability of the Nigerian authorities to provide security, good governance, social and economic development in the country. It should affirm the international community’s solidarity and full support for the victims of killings by herdsmen and the communities affected, including those displaced because of the attacks.
“The Security Council and its members should support collaboration with the African Union Peace and Security Council to combat the threats posed by herdsmen and enable both institutions to support stability and development in Nigeria. We believe that a UN Security Council resolution would help to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to take urgent and concrete measures to end the killings and secure the safety of all Nigerians. We urge you to act urgently as recommended, and we would be pleased to discuss these issues further.
“SERAP notes that hundreds of people including women and children, have been killed apparently by herdsmen, and several more have been displaced and others forced to flee their homes and communities. The past weeks alone have seen some of the worst attacks against innocent citizens, including unlawful killings, destruction and pillage of property by herdsmen across the country. The attacks have been fuelled by impunity that has plagued the authorities’ response to the problem.
“According reports, at least seven people have been killed and property worth millions of naira destroyed following series of attacks on Takum and Ussa local government areas of Taraba State by herdsmen. In Plateau State of Nigeria, a man identified as Joseph Alli, 23, was killed and beheaded by herdsmen during a fresh attack on Rotsu village, Miango District in Bassa Local Government Area of the State.
“His killers reportedly ate the food that he was about to eat, burnt the kitchen and food barn in the house and left. Three houses around the area were also burnt. In Kogi State, at least 50 people have been killed, with several still missing following an attack on Oganenigwu in Dekina Local Government Area of the state by herdsmen.”
The Security Council has five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly. The non-permanent members are: Bolivia; Côte d’Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Ethiopia; and Kazakhstan. Others are: Kuwait; Netherlands; Peru; Poland; and Sweden.
The presidency of the Council is held by each of the members in turn for one month, following the English alphabetical order of the Member States names. The current president of the Council is the Netherlands.