The Global Amnesty Watch (GAW) has faulted the claims by Amnesty International (AI) that the government and armed forces in Nigeria did not do enough to prevent clashes between herders and farmers in Nigeria. This was contained in a statement issued by the president of GAW at a world press conference on the activities of the Global Amnesty Watch in Nigeria, held in London, United Kingdom on January 3rd, 2019.
Mr. David Falt stated that under the present government of President Muhammadu Buhari, the tempo and efficacy of Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram’s brand of terrorism increased and kept pace following this change in leadership.
“GAW is taken aback by “Harvest of Death Three Years of Bloody Clashes between Farmers and Herders in Nigeria,” a report by Amnesty International on the farmers/herders’ clashes in Nigeria. That organization took the simplistic position that the Nigerian Government and military did not do enough to protect communities from the massacre. The information available to GAW makes the position adopted by Amnesty International to appear as a clear-cut case of incitement. The organizations conveniently ignored the reality on the ground to suggest that Nigerian authorities should have done more to stop the “killer herdsmen.”
He further stated that “it appears Amnesty International was resolved to create a blockbuster report as against providing details that will make meaningful contributions to peacebuilding. While the entire report is replete with over dramatization, certain specific aspects expose the intentions of AI could cause strife in Nigeria and perhaps move onwards from there to disrupt the entire West African sub-region.”
Mr. Falt averred that the use of certain expressions could put one on the line being accused of being homophobic, misogynist, sexist, ageist, racist or any other orientation that the contemporary world finds unacceptable.
“Society’s criminalization of those that engage in these anti-social behaviors is not unconnected with the harms that their victims often suffered like in the case of homophobic attacks.”
“Amnesty International singled out some ethnic groups in Nigeria and passed death sentences on them. Nigeria must now race against time to do crisis management and prevent the reprisals that will follow the identification of certain ethnic groups. There is a danger of the report sparking fresh rounds of killing, which is most unfortunate as it would roll back the progress that group like GAW have made in building peace across ethnic divides.”
“We want to warn the Nigerian authorities that the situation is precarious. In the course of past interviews with military personnel on the field, the feedback from them is that they are discouraged from giving their best when confronting terrorists and militia members because they fear that Amnesty International will blackmail them with its reports and threats of prosecution.”
The president of GAW also stated that even though they perceive the NGO as a fraud, they nonetheless feel distracted by its activities.
“The implication of this is that should there be a resumption of hostilities between farmers and herders, troops that would be sent to control the situation would again stand by helplessly unable to do much because they worry about what report Amnesty International will write.”
GAW further stated that “Harvest of Death Three Years of Bloody Clashes between Farmers and Herders in Nigeria, is a lapse in judgment that would have cost Amnesty International its license to operate if it were practicing in a regulated sector.
“Even when it does not operate in a regulated sector, and the absence of an ombudsman, it remains a duty for Amnesty International not to abuse the sanctity of the expectations the world has in it. Amnesty International must, therefore, take steps to make amends for its error in judgment so that it does not jeopardize the peace efforts in Nigeria.”
GAW advises the Nigerian authorities – military and government to reject the report as a work of fiction that failed to take into account the reality on the ground.
“They should approach the relevant international organizations to call Amnesty International to order if it fails to walk back the report.”
“GAW will continue to monitor the situation in Nigeria to making useful input in the early warning system that will prevent the kind of instability that the Amnesty International report could have caused.”