The European Union Parliament (EUP) has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to negotiate a national policy framework that would protect the interests of both farmers and herders. The Parliament also called on international partners to increase investment in preventing and resolving inter-communal conflicts between cattle pastoralists and farmers by supporting cooperation through shared economic and natural resource management initiatives. The counsel was part of the EUP Resolutions (2018/2513RSP) on Nigeria.
The EU Parliament noted that pastoralist-farmer clashes in Nigeria have become more widespread and intense over the last 10 years and currently pose a threat to national cohesion. Thousands of people, said the EUP, have been killed, communities destroyed, while a large number of farmers and pastoralists have lost their lives and property in an escalation of killings and destruction.
The EUP noted that livestock farming is under threat owing to high population growth, expansion of farming, and loss of pasture and cattle routes. It, however, stated that pastoralism cannot come to an end or be prohibited, as there are strong cultural, political and economic reasons for its existence.
It expressed deep concern over the rampancy of inter-ethnic conflicts between herdsmen and farmers in the Middle Belt (North Central geopolitical zone), which have aggravated the country’s security challenges. The EUP lamented the lack of real progress in addressing the grave issues.
In a similar vein, it condemned the rise in violence against Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. This, it said, entails the targeting of religious places and worshippers. It exemplified the trend with the recent killing of 48 Christians in villages across Plateau State and the bombing of a mosque in Mubi in Adamawa State, where 50 people died.
It called on President Muhammadu Buhari to step up efforts to halt the violence, defend Nigerians’ freedom to worship and protect the rights of all their citizens more rigorously. The EUP recalled that until the seventies, there was no bad blood between herdsmen and farmers, noting that the current explosive situation, which concerns access to land, has been worsened by lack of effective mediation measures. It also condemns the depiction of the conflict as a religious one, saying it is an oversimplification of the issue.
The parliamentary body called on the Federal Government to concentrate on upholding human rights and dignity in all policies to ensure peaceful coexistence among citizens irrespective of their religious beliefs and political affiliations.
The body also condemned the violent attacks on Christian communities in the Northern part of the country but noted that Boko Haram has attacked Muslims, Christians and adherents of other faiths without discrimination.
While saying that the Nigerian military has succeeded in retrieving the country’s territory from Boko Haram and arrested some of its members, the EUP stated that the government’s non-military efforts to stop Boko Haram remain in their infancy. It called on President Buhari to protect Nigerians against terrorism in a manner that must conform with the rule of law and respect for human rights. While commending President Buhari’s administration for the success recorded in the counter-insurgency war as well as the anti-corruption war, the EUP offered to support the government in its objective of seeking to sever the link between corruption and terrorism.
It advised the Federal Government to ensure that its actions against Boko Haram and other terror groups do not lead to further violence. To make this happen, it urged the Federal Government to carry out a reform of the country’s state security agencies, including the Police, and to conduct investigations into human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and extortion-related abuses. In addition, the EUP appealed to the Federal Government to address the root causes of the violence by ensuring equal rights for all citizens and non-discriminatory legislation. It frowned at sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls and the use, by Boko Haram and other terrorist groups, of women and children for abductions, forced marriage, rape and suicide bombers.
It equally expressed concern over the inadequate humanitarian assistance in refugee camps, which it said has resulted in high levels of exploitation and sexual abuse. As a result of these, it advised the Federal Government to provide the required psychosocial support to the victims of the scourge of radicalization, notably women, children and young people before reintegrating them back into society. It also called for joint efforts by all international actors on the prevention of radicalization and de-radicalization schemes.
The parliamentary body warned that without tough action to eradicate grave human rights violations, the broader political, economic and social agenda of the Buhari administration will be a mirage. It further advised the Nigerian government to strengthen anti-corruption measures, as failure to do so will result in more years of poverty, inequality, reputational damage, reduced external investment and fewer life opportunities for Nigerians.
“Corruption leads to dissatisfaction with public institutions and the decreased legitimacy of governments in the eyes of the citizens,” noted the EUP.
To effectively tackle corruption, it called for improved efficiency and independence of country’s judicial system in a way that enables the effective use of criminal justice to combat violence, terrorism and corruption.
Besides, it called on the government to begin the process of abolishing capital punishment in the country, ensure that elections are held in conformity with its international human rights obligations and to take all necessary measures to ensure free, transparent and credible elections.
The body equally called on the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the member States to monitor the reintegration of Nigerian returnees from Libya and to ensure that the EU funding foreseen is spent effectively.
Lastly, its President to forward the resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the member states, President Buhari, Chairperson of the African Union, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the Pan-African Parliament and representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The resolution was reached considering the parliamentary body’s previous resolutions on Nigeria and took into consideration the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Nigerian Constitution and other legislative instruments and charters on human rights and freedoms.