by Dayo Laniyan
According to Amnesty International, the Nigerian army have been accused of committing war crimes and atrocities in the north east of the country, which has already been ravaged by violence cause by Boko Haram.
The charity have claimed that they have seen footage which shows Nigerian soldiers killing detainees believed to be Boko Haram. In detail, the incident involved 16 young men- nine being killed by having their throats slit one by one and five being shot dead. Coincidentally this was committed on the same day as a Boko Haram attack on a military detention centre located near Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, this year on 14th March.
The perpetrators “appear to be members of the Nigerian military and the ‘Civilian Joint Task Force’ (CJTF) which are state-sponsored militias,” says Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty. “The ghastly images are backed up by the numerous testimonies we have gathered which suggest that extrajudicial executions are, in fact, regularly carried out by the Nigerian military and CJTF.”
“Nigerians deserve better-what does it say when members of the military carry out such unspeakable acts and capture the images on film?” he added. “These are not the images we expect from a government which sees itself as having a leadership role in Africa. The ghastly images are backed up by the numerous testimonies we have gathered which suggest that extrajudicial executions are, in fact, regularly carried out by the Nigerian military and CJTF.”
Nigerian authorities have said that they are “deeply concerned” about the video which is now in circulation, adding for effect “That level of barbarism and impunity no place in the Nigerian military.” Brigadier General Chris Olukoklade, Nigeria’s Director of Defence Information said in a statement that senior officers and forensic experts will be looking at the footage “in order to ascertain the veracity of the claims with a view to identifying those behind such acts.”
Boko Haram has been terrorizing the country with bomb attacks and massacres since the Islamist insurgency that first started in north-eastern Nigeria in 2010. Roughly 4,000 people have been killed this year, and more than 200 of the girls kidnapped from a school in Chibok in April are still missing, along with other women and girls unaccounted for.
Nigerian military have been stretched thin while fighting Boko Haram militants, and this has not been the first time its forces have been accused of abusing human rights.
Residents of the town of Bama, 50 miles south east from Maiduguri, told Amnesty of a ‘screening’ operation on 23rd July last year, when Nigerian soldiers and CJTF came in and took 35 men suspected to be part of Boko Haram to the military barracks, after beating them with sticks and machetes.
They were returned into the town days later on July 29th, where they were executed several at a time. One of the dead men’s relatives told Amnesty “There were five bodies, including my relative. He had a bullet hole in his chest and no clothes, only trousers. We took the body and buried it.”
“There is no death certificate; Bama hospital is not functioning. There is no place to complain; the town has restricted movement. Everybody left what happened to God.”