Amnesty International and the Zamfara State government have disagreed over the security situation in the state, where there have been reports of killings and kidnapping in recent times.
In a statement on Tuesday by the Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, the human rights watchdog alleged that thousands of people have been displaced by a conflict which began in 2012, as a result of the clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
Ojigho said the authorities’ failure to act has left villagers in Zamfara at the mercy of armed bandits, who have killed hundreds of people over the course of two bloody years.
She added that residents of some affected villages claimed to have been warned ahead of attacks on the phone and that they have also been asked to pay huge sums of money or risk being killed or abducted.
She said, When AI visited the region, villagers told said that they had pleaded with the government to help them after receiving warning letters from the bandits ahead of attacks but had received no protection. She said the Nigerian authorities have repeatedly claimed to be tackling the situation, but the mounting death toll tells a different story.
Ojigho claimed that their findings showed that the deployment of troops to the affected villages by President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to stop the killings in the state.
She noted that although it was the third time since November 2017 that the Federal Government had deployed the military in response to attacks, villagers told Amnesty International that this has not translated into protection for remote, vulnerable communities.
However, spokesperson for the Zamfara State government, Ibrahim Dosara, said that the report by Amnesty International was disappointing. Dosara accused the human rights group of bias in its report, insisting that the government and security agencies in the state were working tirelessly to ensure the safety of the citizens.