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NHRC probes alleged use of chemical weapons in Benue

The National Human Rights Commission on Friday said it has commenced investigations into the alleged use of chemical weapons on the civilian population in some parts of Benue State.

A statement from the NHRC’s Chief Public Relations Officer, Fatima Mohammed, said the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Professor Bem Angwe, revealed the commencement of the probe when he led a delegation to Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam.

Angwe said the Protection Sector Working Group will next week visit the state to carry out a full scale investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons on people and also assess the human rights situation of persons displaced by the crisis.

The PSWG include the NHRC, National Emergency Management Agency, National Commission for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution, Red Cross Society, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development among others.

Angwe, who chairs the PSWG, said, “If indeed chemical weapons are being used in Benue State, this is a direct threat to humanity which is a dangerous trend and if unchecked can spread to other parts of the country.”

Condemning the development, he stressed that the Geneva Convention of 1949 and other international instruments place a limit to means and weapons of warfare.

He observed that it has become necessary for the Federal Government to draw the attention of the International Community to the need to address the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

In his remarks, Suswam regretted that the insecurity in Benue State which started about two years ago has continued to escalate beyond the usual farmers/herdsmen crisis to a more dangerous dimension.

“Security agencies have confirmed that it is a clear case of insurgency,” he said.

He said the Government of Benue State was ready to cooperate with the NHRC and the PSWG.

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