Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA-Nigeria) has disclosed that no fewer than 3,641 people were killed in Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna, and Zamfara states between January 2016 and October 2018 due to violent clashes between herders and farmer communities.
President of WAANSA-Nigeria Ms Josephine Habba, who disclosed this at a press conference in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, to mark this year’s Arms Control Week of Action, stated further that within the same period in the North East, Boko Haram carried out more than 65 attacks, causing 411 civilian deaths; and abducted at least 73 people, including women.
“There remains at least 1.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, 395 lived in camps or similar settings and 61% in host communities ” Habba said.
“According to the UN, 5.2 million people in the northeast are in urgent need of food assistance; 450,000 children below the age of 5 are in urgent need of nutrition. In July 2018, Doctors without Borders reported that 240 children had died from malnutrition in Borno State.”
Habba lamented that in Benue State alone, 483,692 persons have been displaced; adding that 56.24% of the displaced population are children and 22.59% are women, while 21.17% are men.
This statistics, she said, are based on the profiling of IDPs in Benue State carried out by Jireh Doo Foundation (JDF) in collaboration with Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA) and Community Links.
While noting with sadness that killings are still ongoing across the country, the WAANSA President said it was for that reason that the Network had been at the fore front of advocacy for an end to illicit trade and misuse of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.
“The negative impact of poor control of arms in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized; more than 3,641 people were killed in Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna, and Zamfara states between January 2016 and October 2018 due to violent clashes between herders and members of farmer communities, 57% of them in 2018 alone.
“These clashes have been a fight to control and access resources including water, land and pasture. According to Amnesty International (AI), the Nigerian government has the constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property of its citizens.
“Where this has not worked as expected, it promotes the demand and supply of Small Arms and light weapons leaving us with the challenges of hardly arresting and prosecuting perpetrators of the attacks.
“Aside from deaths resulting from the gun violence, hundreds of thousands of persons have been displaced internally. In Benue State alone 483,692 persons have been displaced, 56.24 % of the displaced population are children and 22.59% are women, while 21.17% are men.”
Habba encouraged the Nigerian government to perform its constitutional responsibilities of protecting lives and property by investigating, arresting and prosecuting perpetrators of arms violence.
“While we commend the government on the recent arrest of some arms smugglers and arms factory runners in recent times, the prosecution of the suspects should be certain and these successes should be replicated for an arms controlled and safe society.”