30 April 2021
Deepening insecurity requires urgent response to protect civilians
As I went about my day on Monday of this week catching up on the happenings in Nigeria, I was struck by the number of violent incidents reported across the country in just 24 hours.
I began in the morning following up on reports of attacks by Boko Haram’s splinter faction, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), in Geidam, Yobe State and Mainok, Borno State. The Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria – now in its 12th year – has killed thousands and displaced over 2.5 million people. Eleven people were killed and around two thousand residents fled their homes during the attacks in Geidam, according to media sources.
By the afternoon, news of the death of two students at Greenfield University in Kaduna State broke. The students were among over a dozen people abducted from their school on April 20 by an armed group that apparently demanded 800 million naira (over US$2 million) for their release. The two students are believed to have been murdered by their abductors. The dead bodies of three others who had been kidnapped had been found three days earlier in a village near the university.
Kaduna is among several states in Nigeria’s northwest region plagued by incessant kidnappings carried out by armed groups that emerged following years of conflict between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities. In recent months, armed groups have attacked several schools in the region and abducted hundreds of children for ransom.
Kidnapping for ransom is also a growing concern in the middle belt and southern parts of the country where multiple factors including conflict, unemployment, proliferation of arms, and security sector failures make crime a thriving business.
This Monday was no different from many other days in Nigeria. The authorities need to do more to protect civilians. They should urgently reassess their current approach, identify its inadequacies, and develop and implement a concerted, new response grounded in respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.
By Anietie Ewang. This piece first appeared on the Human Rights Watch website.