Read the full rejoinder here
Summary of the claims that the Nigerian government made and the rejoinder response:
1) Information in the report is political and the Nigerian government continues to uphold the constitutional fundamental freedoms.
- Disingenuous – This report was not written to generate a political discussion or ‘criticize’ the Nigerian government’s response but to comprehensively compile reports from diverse range of NGOs for clarity in response to the growing concern among constituents regarding the situation of “dramatic and escalating inter-communal violence in Nigeria” as well as the multitude of varying opinions on the factors of the violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. The United States Department of State, Open Doors, and USCIRF all reveal that Nigerian citizens have routinely had their constitutional freedoms of thought, conscience, and religion violated- by both state and non-state actors.
2) Nigeria has pushed back the terrorists and largely reduced their capacity in the last five years compared with the previous decade.
- False – The death toll has not decreased in the last five years, rather increased from 20 346 deaths by Boko Haram as the primary actor from 2000-2014, to 22 806 deaths from 2015-2020.
3) Tensions between Christianity and Islam – and between herders and farmers are due to access to ever-decreasing arable and farmland due to a rapidly rising population, temperatures and desertification through global warming.
- Partly true – This is one of the reasons but it does not detract from that the violence is divided along religious lines. Not just the APPG, but countless other non-governmental organizations have drawn attention to the casualty statistics which show that Christian deaths as a result of Islamic militancy far outweigh Muslim deaths from rare reprisal attacks.
4) The exacerbation of violence is due to crimes perpetrated by Boko Haram.
- Only partly true – Fulani militant attacks surpassed Boko Haram attacks in 2018.
5) The Nigerian government is “irrevocably committed” to address the Boko Haram and criminal attacks.
- False – President Buhari cannot claim to champion religious freedom and spearhead the campaign to eradicate such violence when he has made numerous statements downplaying the incidents and ignoring their complexities.
6) Nigeria is “continuing and increasing […] efforts” to finally finish Boko Haram.
- While the government has put in some programs they have not taken a wholistic approach, “Deradicalization of former Boko Haram militants will not succeed if the broader contours of the conflict are not dealt with. Specifically, a wider justice and reconciliation package- one that convinces, prepares, and equips communities to receive former fighters- and sustained pressure from the military are needed.”
7) Nigeria is “continuing to seek, negotiate for, and secure” the return the return of all those held hostage.
- Of the kidnapped Chibok girls, 57 escaped during transport to a Boko Haram base, and the other 219 were forcibly transferred to captivity. Over six years since this abduction, 112 victims are still missing. In addition, Boko Haram continues to keep Leah Sharibu captive.
8) That the Federal and State Governments are rolling out programmes to grant access to arable farmland.
- Partly true but they are not effectively addressing the violence.
9) That Nigeria is countering fake news on social and digital media.
10) The Nigerian government “will at all times work with those both within and without Nigeria” with a concern for the rights to freedom of thought conscience and religion.
- Disingenuous – The Nigerian government invited the Special Rapporteur to Nigeria but then criticised her for her findings. The Nigerian government has also arrested human rights journalists such as Sowore, in a time when the need for independent and reliable and objective information is greater than ever.