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Killing of Rice Farmers: Government Needs to do More to Protect Citizens, NHRC says

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Godsgift Onyedinefu

Nigerian government needs to do more in protecting the lives and properties of citizens, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said.

Reacting to the attacks on a rice field in Kwashabe, Borno State, the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, said the Federal Government should adopt a policy for the protection of civilians in Nigeria.

He said the “government must do more in protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians especially those living within the conflict regions.”

He described the killing of farmers at the rice field in Borno as “one killing too many,” lamenting that it was not only a great loss to the people of Borno State but to the entire country.

Ojukwu said “the commission is heartbroken to hear that people were killed when trying to fend for themselves and other people.”

He said: “There is an urgent need for government to redouble its effort in providing protection for the citizens especially those who are unfortunate to find themselves in the volatile areas of the North-East that have been destroyed as a result of the operations of the insurgents.”

Ojukwu, while revealing that the Commission has a monitoring team in the north east, noted that the weekly report of the human rights monitoring exercise of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States showed an urgent need for the government to provide more security in these States in order to protect the population of concern (IDPs) who encounter several forms of security challenges from kidnap to attack by herders to ultimate destructions of lives and properties by the insurgents.

He decried that those already ravaged by the atrocities of the insurgents are now leaving in perpetual fear and tension.

He said: “On the one hand they cannot continue to live with pangs of hunger as they must look for food. They must be protected from being kidnapped or killed on their farmlands as they go in search of food.”

Ojukwu said that “we were at the frontline in various locations in Borno and we saw the efforts of the military, we commend them, we know it’s not easy, but we ask that they should do more.”

He stressed that stakeholders must each play their roles, “all hands must be on deck to address this issue, our people must be protected from the harm of insurgency.”

He said the population of concern is inundated with a lot of human rights issues like lack of shelter, food, health care services, WASH, livelihood and many other issues that give life meaning. He therefore called on well-meaning Nigerians and multinational companies to continue to support the government to come to the aid of the people in the affected areas.

He however commiserate with the government and people of Borno State and particularly commend the State Governor Professor Babagana Zulum for all the steps he has taken to restore peace and livelihood in the State.

He said particularly commendable is his passion to reintegrate the population of concern back to their normal lives.

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