Thirteen members of the House of Lords, United Kingdom, have petitioned the Commonwealth over the spate of killings by Boko Haram terrorists and Fulani herdsmen in the North-East and Middle Belt region of Nigeria.
The upper house of parliament members said the failure of the Federal Government to protect Nigerians was a breach of the Commonwealth Charter.
They requested the Commonwealth to raise the killings with its Ministerial Action Group.
This was contained in a letter to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, dated September 14 2020, co-signed by Baroness Cox, Baroness Kennedy, Jim Shannon, Fiona Bruce, former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams and 14 others.
They cited a report by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, which accused unnamed officials of being complicit in the bloodshed in the country.
The referenced report was titled, ‘Nigeria: Unfolding genocide?’.
According to the parliamentarians, the APPG’s concerns reflected the findings of a report by Amnesty International, ‘We dried our tears: Addressing the toll on children of North-East Nigeria’s conflict’, which concludes that the Nigerian armed forces have committed war crimes against humanity during their operations.
The lawmakers wrote, “The Nigerian army’s former Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, whom some of us have met and spoken to, says the armed forces are ‘not neutral; they collude’ in the ‘ethnic cleansing in riverine states”.
“The state’s failure to protect the citizens is a clear breach of its obligations under the Commonwealth Charter in respect of human rights,” the Lords submitted.
The letter added, “There is now an urgent need to ensure adequate protection and aid for those suffering the loss of family members and the destruction of their homes and livelihoods, and to end impunity by ensuring that complaints related to human rights violations are promptly, independently and impartially investigated, and those responsible are held to account after fair trials”.
The group requested the Commonwealth scribe to raise the urgent concerns with the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.
“We would be very willing to meet in person (or perhaps more practically, online via zoom) to discuss how we might proceed,” they said.