20 December 2018
The House of Lords in the UK held a debate titled “Nigeria: Intercommunal violence” on Tuesday. During the debate, Liberal Democrat Lord Chidgey said: “… following Amnesty International’s report yesterday which confirmed that more than half of the 3,600-plus deaths over the past three years of the conflict in Nigeria have occurred this year, what discussions are the Government planning with their Nigerian counterparts about the failure of their security forces? I note the Minister’s comments about the 30,000 who are being trained. Will he also comment on the negative impact that the corruption among senior officers is having on the welfare and security of their troops? Does he agree that it contributed to the recent massacre at Metele, which was not helped by the ineffectiveness in these matters of the ex-general, President Muhammadu Buhari? “
The government minister in the House of Lords, Lord Ahmad, responded with: “The noble Lord is right that there has been an escalation in violence and the number of deaths in Nigeria in a variety of different conflicts, and it is extremely concerning. I assure him that we have raised the issue at the highest level with President Buhari, who has not only condemned the violence but is investing government time, effort and resource to ensure that he is speaking to the regions impacted and has convened a meeting of the different states. Equally, as I said, we are working with European partners to see what policies and plans can be developed in that respect. That is work in progress. Most recently, we have been encouraged that the Nigerian Government are planning to introduce a government Bill to address some of the events that have occurred, particularly between the Fulani and the farmers in Nigeria. It will look at reforms relating to farmland and private-property protection and at ensuring that agriculture is protected. It will seek to build a positive relationship and co-operation between communities not only in different states but across the country as a whole.”
Lord Chidgey is a member of the advisory board of Transparency International and president of the Commonwealth Forum at the National Liberal Club.
Earlier, Conservative peer Lord Suri kicked off proceedings asking the government “what support they are providing to the government of Nigeria in its efforts to end the violence between herders and farmers in that country; and what assessment they have made of the impact on that country of the continuance of such intercommunal violence.” The minister’s response was that: “… we remain deeply concerned by the escalation in intercommunal violence across Nigeria, which has a devastating impact on lives and communities and is a barrier to that country’s development. Insecurity and the politicisation of the violence risk localised disruption of the 2019 elections. We urge the Nigerian Government to develop a clear strategy to address the underlying causes and we continue to develop options for how the United Kingdom could further support dialogue and peacebuilding efforts.”
The Nigerian army, rather than address the issues raised in the Amnesty International Report, have sought to have the human rights group banned from operating in Nigeria.