Mass atrocities: Global Rights reports over 14,000 deaths in two years

A civil society organisation (CSO), Global Rights, has disclosed that, at least, 14,000 people have died from mass atrocities perpetrated across all geo-political zones within the country.

Disclosing this today at a press briefing in Abuja was the Executive Director of Global Rights, Gloria Baiyewu, during the commemoration of the 2022 National Day of Mourning.

Baiyewu noted that the number of deaths had continually increased since 2019, with no signs of a decline.

“There have been, at least, 14,641 as a result of mass atrocities between January 2019 and December 2021. The number of deaths steadily increased by 116.28 per cent from 2019 to 2021.

“There are no signs of these numbers abating anytime soon, especially as Nigeria enters into its political season, given its 2023 general elections, which are expected to be highly contested and volatile as indicated by the number of politically related killings,” she said.

She mentioned a report on ‘Mass Atrocities Tracking across Nigeria for 2021′ carried out by the organisation, which recorded that 6,895 people were killed in 2021 alone. The figure was 50 per cent higher than the 4,556 number of deaths recorded by the organisation in 2020.

The report also stated that, at least, 3,188 people had died due to mass atrocities in 2019, with the North-West leading with the number of atrocious killings there over the years.

Baiyewu also said that abductions in the country witnessed an upsurge within the two years.

“Abductions remain a significant indicator of mass atrocities in Nigeria and have increased exponentially. The nation tilted from, at least, 2,002 abductions occurring in 2020 to, at least, 5663 in 2021.

“Five states in the north of the country accounted for over 57.3 per cent of the abductions,” she said.

She also said that ritual killings and cult-gang violence had become a fast-growing trend in Southern Nigeria.

Speaking on the way forward, the Program Director, Network of University Legal Aid Institution (NULAI), Odinakaonye Lagi, stated that recommendations made in previous reports, if implemented, would play a significant role in addressing the nation’s challenges.

The recommendations included investing in human development, strengthening state institutions and governance structures, and improving security forces’ welfare and work conditions.

“A third of Nigerians are unemployed, and that in itself is extremely dangerous. In the face of dwindling oil resources from the nation’s mono-economy, poor economic infrastructure, endemic poverty, a bulging youth population, an unemployment rate of 33 per cent, the highest number of out-of-school children in the world and an educational system that does not appear to be future responsive, Nigeria’s young people face a bleak future.

“The government must also ensure the protection of the nation’s security human assets and adequately equip them to deal with the security challenges with which the nation is confronted,” Lagi said.

She called for a reduction in the proliferation of arms and light weapons within the country, combating electoral violence, protecting civic rights and freedoms, securing the nation’s borders, respect for the rule of law, productive resource management and an end to impunity.

Nigeria has witnessed a wave of impunity, mass atrocities, and human rights abuse for many years.

Abductions, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and terrorism were mentioned as driving the perpetration of mass atrocities in the country.

Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via or @ije_le on Twitter.

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