August 1, 2023
[1/5] Cars burnt, windows broken, and civilian infrastructure destroyed following violent attacks in the Plateau State of Nigeria's Middle Belt, 2022. Several areas of the Middle Belt region have been, and continue to be, subjected to frequent attacks leading to heavy civilian casualties. | Photo captured by a partner in Nigeria with the eyeWitness to Atrocities app
[2/5] Fire-damaged house in Kaduna State, Nigeria, 2022. Since the last UPR session for Nigeria in 2018, hundreds of civilians have been killed or injured as a result of attacks on their villages. | Photo captured by a partner in Nigeria with the eyeWitness to Atrocities app
[3/5] Trees cut, remaining of damaged houses in the background in Kaduna State, Nigeria, 2022. | Photo captured by a partner in Nigeria with the eyeWitness to Atrocities app
[4/5] Razed home in Kaduna State, Nigeria, 2023. In the first four months of 2023, assaults in the State have led to the deaths of at least 58 people and the destruction of at least 40 homes. | Photo captured by a partner in Nigeria with the eyeWitness to Atrocities app
[5/5] The wreckage of a burnt house following attacks in Kaduna State, Nigeria, 2023. In addition to civilian casualties, villages are often set on fire in the course of attacks. | Photo captured by a partner in Nigeria with the eyeWitness to Atrocities app
On 17 July 2023, in collaboration with the International Committee On Nigeria, Rev. Canon Hassan John, and the Bwaatiye Community Development Association (BCDA), eyeWitness to Atrocities (eyeWitness) submitted information ahead of Nigeria’s fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR), to be held in January-February 2024.
The joint submission builds on verifiable footage captured by human rights documenters in Nigeria with the eyeWitness to Atrocities camera app. To date, app users in the country have uploaded nearly 6,000 photographs, videos, and audio files to the eyeWitness-controlled server, portraying the immediate aftermath of violent attacks on villages in the Middle Belt region, including in the States of Adamawa, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Ondo, and Plateau.
Focused on serious human rights violations, the submission includes a thorough analysis of violations of the right to life, adequate housing, food, freedom of religion, and effective remedy, as a result of repeated attacks on civilians in Nigeria's Middle Belt region. It further assesses Nigeria's implementation of UPR recommendations since 2018.
At Nigeria's last UPR in November 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues noted that some States in the region experienced intercommunal violence which, while characterised by ethnic and religious components, had more complex and multifaceted underlying causes. Similarly, the UN country team and civil society organisations highlighted increased conflicts between farmers and herders, with the UN country team concluding that these attacks had taken on a religious and ethnic connotation. New Zealand’s delegation recommended that Nigeria “undertake effective and impartial investigations into massacres, bringing those responsible to justice and ensuring redress for victims.”
Tensions between nomadic herdsmen, 90% of whom are Muslim Fulani pastoralists, and sedentary crop farmers, who are predominantly Christian and comprised of various ethnic groups, have exacerbated over the last two decades due to political, economic, environmental, ethnic, and religious factors. Changes in weather patterns and rising temperatures in the country have intensified competition for resources. According to the International Crisis Group, herders in the north are migrating to the Middle Belt in central Nigeria due to increasing commercial cultivation areas, poor government regulation of the land, water shortages, and a lack of irrigated land.The lines between conflict drivers have blurred over the years, and violence now encompasses herder-farmer disputes over resources, gang-style violence by rival ethnic militias, as well as opportunistic criminality, as indicated by the US Congressional Research Service.
Whilst Nigeria supported New Zealand’s recommendation in 2018, armed militias continue to operate with impunity in the Middle Belt, killing unarmed civilians, setting villages ablaze, and destroying food reserves.
With increasing numbers of civil society organisations and individual app users documenting in high-risk regions, eyeWitness has increased its efforts to raise awareness of human rights violations by submitting information to various UN mechanisms, including the UPR Working Group, in collaboration with our partners.
The UPR is an innovation of the United Nations Human Rights Council, established in 2006 as a peer-review mechanism of the human rights situation in all UN Member States based on the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights treaties ratified by the state concerned, voluntary pledges by the state, and international humanitarian law. States are reviewed every five years on the basis of information they provide, reports from UN entities, and submissions by civil society organisations. For more information, see: www.ohchr.org