Rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has requested President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that “any efforts by his government to prevent and combat attacks by herdsmen across the country are grounded in the rights of victims of unlawful killings and their families.”
The group noted that “it is important to ensure that any policy to tackle the problem is not used as a ploy to undercut the possibilities of meaningful justice and reparation for victims and their families.”
In a statement yesterday in Lagos by its deputy director, Timothy Adewale, the organisation noted: “So far, attempts by the government to address the persistent attacks by herdsmen in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa states and other parts of the country have overlooked the plight of the victims and their families. But it has to be made clear that victims of attacks apparently by herdsmen are entitled to effective remedies regardless of whether they bring their claims against the government in an individual or collective capacity.”
SERAP went on: “It is an imperative demand of justice that the responsibility of the perpetrators of the unlawful killings and destruction of property be clearly established and the rights of the victims and their families sustained to the fullest possible extent.
“Establishing a trust fund for victims of attacks by herdsmen will be an important first step towards justice for victims and their families.
“Victims’ right to an effective remedy and reparation is a legally enforceable human right and not a matter of charity. It is no coincidence that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and human rights instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party refer to victims’ right to effective remedies, including access to justice, reparation and guarantee of non-repetition.”
It further stated: “As the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic, we believe that Buhari is in a powerful position to end the unlawful killings and destruction of property apparently by herdsmen across the country if he really wants to do so. He needs to speak directly to Nigerians and particularly, to the countless victims and their families.”