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Nigerian police punish those who dare to ask for more protection against bandits -Amnesty International

THE Nigerian Police Force punished and arrested citizens seeking more protection against the activities of bandits in the North West of Nigeria, Amnesty International said in a new report.

In the report, “Nigeria Government failings Leave Rural Communities at the Mercy of Gunmen,” the human rights organisation said it documented how farmers, rights groups, and activists were subjected to intimidation, arrest and torture for speaking out against the attacks or asking government to help protect the people.

“Not only has the government failed to take the steps needed to stop these attacks, police regularly punish those who dare to ask for more protection,” Amnesty International said.  

It noted that at least  three people were arrested on August 8, 2020 during a peaceful protest at Refinery Junction, Kaduna South, adding that at least 20 protesters were arrested on June 18 and detained for days by police in Katsina State. 

“On June 17, Nastura Ashir Sharif – an activist was arrested for speaking out against the killings and leading protests calling for an end to the rising insecurity in the country,” it said.

“On 10 April, a youth from the Oureedam community in the Bassa area of Plateau State was arrested after complaining that security forces had arrived late to an attack. He said he was beaten and was made to roll on a wet floor. He was eventually released when a lawmaker representing his community intervened.”

Osai Ojigho, the Country’s Director of Amnesty International, said Nigerian authorities have displayed gross incompetence and total disregard for lives.

She called on the government to take proactive steps against the killings and to seek better ways of preventing further attacks instead of arresting and harassing those seeking for protection.

“In their response to these attacks, the Nigerian authorities have displayed gross incompetence and a total disregard for people’s lives. Arresting people who dare to ask for help is a further blow. Instead of arresting critics, the authorities should be seeking urgent solutions to this crisis and doing all they can to prevent further attacks,” Ojigho said.

The ICIR had earlier reported in the same report how the organization said about 1,126 were reported to have been killed in Northern Nigeria by bandits between January and June 2020.

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