Nigeria: Security lapses that enabled Plateau Attack must be investigated

With the death toll from the Christmas Eve attacks in central Nigeria surpassing 190, the Nigerian authorities must investigate the inexcusable security lapses that allowed the horrific attacks by gunmen across over 20 villages of Bokkos and parts of Barkin-Ladi local government area of Plateau state.   

Our investigation reveals that the gunmen were on a rampage of killing and destruction for more than 48 hours. They moved from one village to another. Apart from Bokkos local government area where the attacks started and lasted hours, the gunmen also crossed into Barkin Ladi local government area and killed dozens of people in Hurum, Daruwat, Maiyanga and NTV villages.   

President Bola Tinubu must set up an impartial, independent, and effective panel to investigate the apparent failure of security agencies to halt the bloodshed hours after villages that were attacked were gathering dead bodies of those killed and conveying those injured to hospitals,”

Isa Sanusi, Director Amnesty International Nigeria.

“Patterns of recent deadly attacks on the rural areas of Plateau state, clearly show, the Nigerian authorities have left these communities at the mercy of rampaging gunmen. Nigerian authorities’ failure to tame the tide of this violence is costing people’s lives and livelihoods, and without immediate action, many more lives may be lost,” said Isa Sanusi  

While President Bola Tinubu promised to implement new measures to address the rising insecurity in the country, the attacks in Plateau state and recently in parts of Benue, Zamfara, Sokoto, and Katsina state highlight that safeguarding lives and property is not a top priority for the government. Issuing statements condemning the attacks is not enough and genuine commitment to protecting the people must be demonstrated by ensuring justice.  

Isa Sanusi remarked, ‘The bold failure of authorities to protect the people of Nigeria is gradually becoming the norm. President Bola Tinubu promised to enact security measures in response to these attacks, but so far, these promises have proven to be empty. 

The Nigerian authorities are obliged under international human rights law, regional human rights treaties, and Nigeria’s own constitution to protect the human rights of all people without discrimination — and that includes the right to life.  

Amnesty International is calling on Nigerian authorities to independently investigate all the Plateau attacks and ensure accountability by bringing the perpetrators to justice. The spate of these killings is evidence of the failure of authorities to protect the people. The inability of authorities to bring attackers to justice is fuelling impunity.