2,600 people killed in Benue attacks in one year, says Amnesty International

The Amnesty International has confirmed that about 2,600 persons, mostly women and children, were killed following attacks on 50 Benue communities between January 2023 and February 2024, adding that 18 out of the 23 local government areas in Benue State were constantly under security threats by armed attackers.

Penpushing reports that Programme Director of the organization Barbara Magaji made the disclosure during a photo exhibition and press conference held on Wednesday in Makurdi, stressing that the attacks equally affect food security and livelihoods.

‘These attacks are significantly affecting food security and livelihoods because the affected communities are farmers, and displacement makes them unable to carry out any farming activity. These displacements are having significant and adverse effects on the right to livelihoods, and depriving thousands of children of the right to education and development’, she said.

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“As of March 2023, when the last counting and documentation was done, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and host communities accommodated a total of 489,245 IDPs’, the Director emphasised.

Penpushing further reports that Magaji quoted the Benue State Ministry of Education and the Teaching Service Board as saying that at least 55 schools had been destroyed by armed bandits or closed down due to insecurity, leaving hundreds of children out of school.

The Director pointed out the need for Nigerian authorities to end the attacks in Benue so as to protect lives, stressing that governments at all levels must ensure that these attacks were investigated and justice given to victims and their families.

“Nigerian authorities must ensure that suspected perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice through fair trial. Nigerian authorities must investigate the security lapses that enabled gunmen to carry out attacks and get away with it. People who are displaced must be provided with adequate humanitarian support, standard of living and children’s education must be continued’, Magaji said.

Penpushing also reports that the Commanding Officer of the 72 Special Forces Battalion, R.B. Kefas, represented by Danjuma Abba, in his goodwill message stated that criminality had been curtailed in all the crisis-prone areas, promising that the efforts would be sustained.

The Commissioner of Police, Steve Yabanet, who was represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Okon Asuquo, on his own part said that the police were working round the clock to reduce criminality to the barest minimum in the state.

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