Boko Haram: Detainees In Nigerian Military Camps ‘Disappear’ – AP Report

Boko Haram: Detainees In Nigerian Military Camps ‘Disappear’ – AP Report

By Wires | The Trent on February 21, 2016
1
Boko Haram Borno Sambisa Forest
File Photo: Nigerian Troops on alert

First come the whispers, then accusations loud enough to raise alarms throughout Nigeria’s northeastern villages ravaged by extremist violence. Next, people accused of being Boko Haram are rounded up, sometimes by the military, sometimes by a civilian self-defense force. Many are never seen again.

The murmurs exploded into a rare open-throated protest recently when a teacher and two middle-aged farmers were taken away in Duhu village. Women who knew the men insisted they did not belong to the Islamic extremist group, and marched to a nearby military base to demand their release. Instead, the men were shot to death and their bodies were dumped outside town.

Nigeria’s military denied ever detaining elementary school teacher Habu Bello and farmers Idrisa Dele and Umaru Hammankadi last month. But several villagers told The Associated Press that they watched as the men were led away by uniformed soldiers who accused them of being Boko Haram fighters.

Threats to civilians come from all sides and extrajudicial killings have not abated despite the president’s declaration of victory over Boko Haram. The insurgents have shown no mercy, but many people are equally afraid of the soldiers and the self-defense Vigilante Group of Nigeria.

Now, they are learning to fear their own neighbors as well.

As refugees return home and try to rebuild lives from nothing — houses have been razed, wells poisoned, crops and livestock looted — some are capitalizing on the fear and insecurity to settle old scores, erase debts, win land disputes or otherwise get rid of enemies, human rights lawyer Sunday Joshua Wugira explained.

“If you have a problem with someone, you can influence the military to pick them up and then you will never hear about them again,” he told AP from his offices in the northeastern city of Yola, where police are investigating the January killings of three brothers from the Fulani tribe.

Police have detained members of the civilian self-defense group, who said they took the suspected insurgents to the military barracks for detention, but were turned away and then a separate group of soldiers seized and killed the brothers, Deputy Superintendent Othman Abubakar said.

Even unborn children are not free from allegations of terrorism. A teenager said she was captured last year by Boko Haram fighters who attacked her village and killed her father. Soldiers arrived to hunt down extremists, but interrogated her three brothers instead. Vigilantes then seized and killed them, she said.

Kidnapped by Boko Haram at 16 and raped in captivity, she was freed in November when soldiers attacked the extremist camp where she was being held. She tried to return to her home village, but had to flee again because vigilantes threatened to kill her unborn child, calling it a “terrorist baby,” she said. The AP does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Duhu district leader Mustapha Sanusi said he has no official record of detainees being killed or disappeared, but has notified the military and legislators about complaints.

“I don’t have any figures, but I can confirm to you that there have been a series of complaints about extrajudicial killings,” he told the AP. He called for a federal investigation and said “the military should always operate within the confines of the law.”

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari promised to end military abuses last year, pledging an investigation into Amnesty International’s allegations that since 2011, the military has been responsible for the deaths of some 8,000 detainees who were shot, starved or tortured. That’s more than a third of the estimated 20,000 people killed during the 6-year-old insurgency. Human rights groups also accuse the self-defense fighters of extrajudicial killings but no one has collated figures.

Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, referred requests for comment for this AP report to the military, but army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman did not respond. However, the army on Thursday announced the establishment of a special office to “investigate all cases of human rights complaints brought before it.” And it said it has established a special court martial to try “all cases of indiscipline and related acts of misconduct, including human rights abuse.”

Buhari told a delegation from the United States Institute of Peace this week that “mechanisms” have been put in place to ensure human rights are respected in the fight against terrorism. “We attach great importance to human rights,” he said. “If there are breaches, they will be investigated and dealt with.”

There’s little evidence of this in the villages, and one of nine senior commanders that Amnesty International accused of possible war crimes — Maj. Gen. Ahmadu Mohammed — was reinstated last month without any investigation, ending an early retirement prompted by a mutiny among his men.

Boko Haram, meanwhile, is attacking softer targets in remote villages, city markets and refugee camps.

Poisoning the atmosphere in camps and villages, insurgents and suicide bombers have quietly joined the thousands of people freed by Nigerian troops. Soldiers have told AP that Boko Haram has infiltrated Nigeria’s security forces as well, fighting with the army by day and against it by night.

Read full report at AP

1 COMMENT

  1. The Nigerian Armed Forces will be encouraged to remain focused and not be distracted by this and similar write-up against it. It is a common knowledge that when you are succeeding some people will be out to damage your image for reason best known to them. Nigerians at large have come to know that those doing this write up are hired enemies of Nigeria who want to perpetuate crisis for their benefits. We believe that Nigerian Armed Forces should be praised and commended and not condemned as we all appreciate their tremendous efforts. We believe in the Armed Forces as professionals who will not condone any indiscipline and abuse not to talk of the abuse of the right of their citizens, because they are there to protect us not to abuse us and to talk of killings as purportedly expressed in this unholy write-up. In as much as we recognise the right of everyone to express his or her own opinion, such opinions should not be misleading and misinforming rather we should all team up to give them all necessary encouragement and support in their effort to curb this insecurity which is involving us all. Lets not talk on something we don’t know, which can be demoralising about our rugged military, who did us proud in so many foreign missions. We know the military of today is not the military of yesterday, they have good leaders who lead properly and who also emphasize upholding the right of every citizen. We heard about the soldiers setting up a Human right office and Civil Military relations amongst others. If they are really guilty of these accusation, why will they set up an office that will consume them? It shows the military are changing by the day and should be encouraged. Positive contributions should be made by people or just keep silent as long as the comment we hear or read do not suggest patriotism and knowledge. This a time to shun any affiliation be it political, tribal religious and other sentiments to fight for our common enemy. It is only when we do that as good citizens that we portray ourselves as true believers and patriotic for this great country. The time have passed where we point accusing fingers on ourselves for doing this right and doing that right. Patriotic citizens are those who mobilize themselves to attend to personal crisis like the one we are having. If Nigerian soldiers are killing as stated, why haven’t they kill you and me. The group championing this campaign have failed before to buy seek attention from Nigerians and international bodies and they will surely fail again in their attempt to send wrong impression. The Nigerian soldiers will always protect his people and not kill as we see them in action in Liberia Somalia, Sierra Leone etc. we urge the entire population to discountenance this and similar write-ups which we believe cannot save our country from its present predicament.

Leave a Comment

To leave a comment anonymously, simple write your thoughts in the comments box below and click the ‘post comment’ button.