14 April 2023, Banjul, the Republic of The Gambia
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), through its Country Rapporteur for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Honourable Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, and the Special Rapporteur on the Death Penalty, Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Africa, Honourable Commissioner Idrissa Sow, expresses deep concerns over the growing acts of violence claiming the lives of many people in in the context and aftermath of the February and March 2023 election in Nigeria, and the so-called farmer-herder clashes reported recently in the country’s Middle Belt.
Reports reaching the African Commission from various sources reveal multiple cases of violent attacks against voters, candidates and electoral staff in the context of the Presidential and Gubernatorial elections, resulting in the death of 109 people between January and 10 March 2023, according to a report of a credible Nigerian organization, with various incidents of deadly electoral violence reported throughout the month of March.
The African Commission notes that the incidents of violence - affecting the right to life, personal security and bodily integrity, freedom from torture or inhumane or degrading treatment, personal liberty, freedom of association, the right to property, the right to work, the right participate in the government of one’s country and the right to peace and security - are characterized by armed attacks on campaign convoys, abduction of political leaders, hate speeches and incitement of violence targeting specific ethnic groups, destruction of business premises, violence at polling stations and gender-based violence and rape threats to women and girls.
The African Commission is further concerned by the most recent reports of deadly violence characterized as farmer-herder intercommunal conflicts. According to these reports gruesome attacks in several villages of the Apa and Agatu Local Government Areas in Benue, claimed the lives of over 300 persons in the last three to four weeks; and most recently the brutal attacks in the Umogidi village on 4th & 5th April 2023, resulted in the death of at least 51 people, leaving several others missing. The Commission is concerned about the persistence and recurrent nature of such incidents of violence further aggravated by criminal acts of kidnaping for ransom and terrorist attacks.
The African Commission notes that all such acts of violence and conflict constitute serious attacks, as highlighted earlier, on a wide range of civil and political, economic, social and cultural and peoples’ rights guaranteed in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, both of which Nigeria is a party to. These human rights treaties establish state commitment to take all the necessary institutional, political, and socio-economic measures to guarantee access to, and ensure safety and security of all persons from situations that threaten their life, physical and social security.
The African Commission therefore calls on the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ensure that
1. Independent and transparent investigation is carried out into the various incidents reported, in order to determine the causes and consequences of these recurrent violent incidents;
2.Those responsible are held accountable;
3.Affected families and communities are provided with effective remedies and rehabilitation support;
4.Initiate a process of dialogue bringing together various constituencies for advancing peaceful coexistence,
5.Support and promote instruments for inter-communal peace including those that facilitate shared and peaceful access to resources as well as peaceful dispute settlement mechanisms;
6.Guarantee the existence of legal and institutional frameworks that prohibit hate speech and incitement of violence against particular ethnic groups and create conditions for various social and public institutions including the media, religious institutions, civil society organizations to work on the promotion of trust, social cohesion and harmony between members of different ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria; and
7.Institute appropriate reform of law enforcement and security institutions to enhance the effective and responsible discharge of their constitutional duties in upholding law and order and safeguarding the safety and security of people.
The African Commission extends its solidarity to the families and victims of various incidents of electoral violence, and the Benue massacres, and expresses its support to the efforts of the Government and people of Nigeria in guaranteeing lasting peace, security and good leadership.
Honourable Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso,
Country Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Honourable Commissioner Idrissa Sow
Special Rapporteur on the Death Penalty, extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Africa