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Gunmen killed 2,600 in Benue communities in one year – AI



Gunmen killed 2,600 in Benue communities in one year – AI

Not less than 2,600 persons, mostly women and children were killed between January 2023 and February 2024 by gunmen in 60 communities in Benue State, according to Amnesty international (AI).

Mrs. Barbara Magaji, AI’s Programme Director, disclosed this during a photo exhibition and news conference on Wednesday, in Makurdi.

Magaji further noted 18 out of the 23 local government areas (LGAs) in the state, were constantly under security threats by armed attackers.

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“These attacks are significantly affecting food security and livelihoods because the affected communities are farmers and displacement make them unable to carry out any farming activity,” Magaji said.

“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.

“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.”

She further quoted the state’s 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.

She stressed the need for Nigerian authorities to end the attacks in Benue because they had a duty to protect lives.

She maintained 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.

Meanwhile, in his goodwill message, the Commanding Officer, 72 Special Forces Battalion, Lt Col. R.B. Kefas, who was represented by Lt Danjuma Abba, stated that criminality had been curtailed in all the crisis prone areas, promising that the efforts would be sustained.

Also, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Steve Yabanet, who was represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Okon Asuquo, said that the police was working round the clock to reduce criminality to the barest minimum in the state.

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