By Peter Duru
Makurdi—No fewer than 3,641 persons were allegedly killed by suspected herdsmen between January 2016 and October 2018 in the six states of Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, Zamfara and Kaduna.
President of West African Action Network on Small Arms, WAANSA-Nigeria, Josephine Habba disclosed yesterday at a briefing to commemorate this year’s Arms Control Week of Action in Makurdi.
She said the herdsmen crisis had already displaced over 483,692 persons in Benue State alone explaining that “of the number, 56.24 percent of the displaced population are children, 22.59 percent are women, while 21.17 percent are men. These statistics is based on the profiling of the IDPs in Benue State carried out by Jireh Doo Foundation, JDF, in collaboration with Benue State Emergency Management Agency and Community Links.”
According to her, within the same period, Boko Haram terrorists carried out more than 65 attacks in the North East, causing 411 civilian deaths; and abducted about 73 persons, including women.
“There remains at least 1.7 million internally displaced persons, IDPs, in the states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, 395 live in camps or similar settings and 61percent in host communities.
“According to the UN, 5.2 million people in the North East are in urgent need of food assistance; 450,000 children below the age of five are in urgent need of nutrition. In July 2018, Doctors without Borders reported that 240 children had died from malnutrition in Borno State,” she said.
The WAANSA President said it was in view of the increasing conflicts and loss of innocent lives that the Network had been at the fore front of advocacy for an end to trade and misuse of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.
“These clashes have been a fight to control and access resources including water, land and pasture. According to Amnesty International, AI, the Nigerian government has the constitutional responsibility to protect lives and properties of its citizens.
“Where this has not worked as expected, it promotes the demand and supply of Small Arms and light weapons leaving us with the challenges of hardly arresting and prosecuting perpetrators of the attacks,” Habba added.