Clashes in Nigeria between farmers and semi-nomadic herders have killed more than 3,600 people since 2016, most of them this year, Amnesty International said, in a report documenting an upsurge in violence that could sway the results of February 2019 elections.
Muhammadu Buhari is seeking a second term in those elections, but his campaign has taken a hit from accusations he has soft-pedaled justice for one of the sides responsible for the clashes, the herders, many of whom come from the same Fulani ethnic group as the leader.
The presidency has repeatedly denied those allegations.
The violence is often painted as ethno-religious: chiefly Muslim Fulani herders clashing with mainly Christian farmers. But many experts and politicians say climate change and expanding agriculture are creating competition for land that is pushing the farmers and herders into conflict, regardless of faith or ethnicity.
"The Nigerian authorities' failure to investigate communal clashes and bring perpetrators to justice has fuelled a bloody escalation in the conflict between farmers and herders across the country, resulting in at least 3,641 deaths in the past three years and the displacement of thousands more," Amnesty said in a statement.
Nigeria's military and police did not respond to request for comment.
Of the 310 attacks recorded between January 2016 and October 2018, 57 percent were in 2018, the rights group said.
After a quieter wet season in the summer, experts now fear clashes could surge again as the dry season begins, forcing herders to move south towards greener land and water supplies, often across farmland. Any increase in violence would coincide with the February 2019 vote.
"These attacks were well planned and coordinated, with the use of weapons like machine guns and AK-47 rifles," said Osai Ojigho, Amnesty's Nigeria director.
"Yet, little has been done by the authorities in terms of prevention, arrests and prosecutions, even when information about the suspected perpetrators was available," she said.
The farmer-herder conflict killed six times more people than the war with the Boko Haram insurgency in the first half of 2018, the International Crisis Group said in July.
"In some places, because of the failures of the security forces, competition over resources is used as a pretext to kill and maim along ethnic or religious lines," Ojigho said.
"The conflict has also been dangerously politicized by some state government officials who have inflamed tensions by embarking on a blame game along political party lines," said Osai Ojigho.
Nigeria’s first gold refinery, located in the southwestern state of Ogun, is scheduled to be completed by the end of June 2019, according to Kian Smith Trade & Co Ltd., the local company developing it.
The refinery will initially be able to produce 3 metric tons of gold each month, and 1 ton of silver, Kian Smith said in a statement. The company said it will supply the nation’s central bank, as well as the jewelry and electronic industries, and source its gold from states such as Zamfara, Kebbi and Kwara.
According to Teriba, the refinery when completed will provide more than 500,000 jobs in two years as it continues to support its suppliers in their bid to become registered business entities in the mining sector. “There’s at presently at least 1,000,000 unregistered business participants in the Nigerian market (considering gold miners, sponsors, dealers, processors, aggregators and gold-workers).
The formalization, organization and development we bring to the value chain will provide quick wins to the Nigerian economy,” Teriba said. Also speaking, the Governor of Ogun State Sen. Ibikunle Amosu, who was represented by the Commisoner for Agriculture Adepeju Adebajo expressed enthusiasm about the refinery project which she said was in line with the state government’s industrialization plan. According to her, the project is a major boost to the Nigerian mining sector. “Apart from the fact that the strengthening of our mining industry will reduce importation of refined products, it will go a long way in affirming our country’s status as a world mining power.”
A statistics obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) from FAAN in Abuja on Thursday, revealed that the figure was an increase of 1.7 million passengers from 9.2 million passengers recorded during the same period in 2017, representing 15.5 per cent increase.
There was also an increase of 23,094 from the 140,552 aircraft movement recorded during the same period in 2017, representing 16.4 per cent increase.
It also revealed that 7.8 million domestic and 3.1 international passengers passed through the airports during the period.
The data also showed that 130,996 domestic and 32,650 international flights were operated across the nation’s 22 airports during the period under review.
The total cargo movement during the period, according to FAAN, stands at 178.5 million tons per kilogramme.
The statistics indicated that 131.46 million tons per kilogramme arrived in the country through the airports, while 47.17 million tons departed during the period.
A look at the four major airports in the country shows that Murtala Muhammed Airports, Lagos, (Domestic and International Wing) recorded the highest passengers and aircraft movement during the period.
The data indicated that Lagos airport recorded 4.8 million passengers, with 2.8 million passengers on domestic routes and 2.05 million on the international routes.
The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, recorded 3.36 million passengers, comprising 2.67 million passengers on domestic routes, while the international routes recorded 689,386 passengers during the period.
FAAN also disclosed that Port Harcourt International Airport recorded 812,479 passengers, comprising 745,082 domestic passengers and 67,397 international passengers.
Ma’am Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, according to the report, recorded 407,830 passengers during the period, comprising 271,570 domestic and 136,260 international passengers.
The monthly breakdown showed that 1.1 million passengers comprising 572,006 arrivals and 583,779 departures in 17,112 aircraft movements were recorded in January.
In February, 1.05 million passengers, comprising 524,257 arrivals and 533,161 departures in 18,224 aircraft movements were recorded.
The statistics also showed that 1.2 million passengers comprising 594,532 arrivals and 625,449 departures in 19,694 aircraft movements were recorded in March.
It further revealed that 1.28 million passengers comprising 639,265 arrivals and 650, 068 departures in 17,791 aircraft movements were recorded in April.
The month of May saw 1.22 million passengers comprising 602,637 arrivals and 618,508 departures in 17,398 aircraft movements, while 1.16 million passengers, comprising 585,023 arrivals and 580,686 departures were recorded in June.
The statistics indicated that there were 15,229 aircraft movements in June, while 1.29 million passengers comprising 655,370 arrivals and 639,469 departures were recorded in July in 19,177 movements.
It further showed that in August, 1.35 million passengers comprising 657,705 arrivals and 694,582 departures in 19,014 aircraft movements.
In September, the authority recorded 1.30 million passengers comprising 657,497 arrivals and 644,711 departures in 20,006 aircraft movements.