The United States government has released a damning report which indicts President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for human rights abuses, injustice, and brutality at all levels.
The report, released by the US Department of State, accuses security agencies like the Department of State Security Services (DSS, also called SSS) which report directly to the president of gross abuse of power, human rights abuses, torture, arbitrary and unlawful detentions, and brutality. The 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices authored by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour was published on April 13, 2016.
The 18,662-word report highlights the Zaria Massacre which was perpetuated by the Nigerian Army under the command of General Yusuf Buratai and indicates that the Nigerian Army under President Buhari is guilty of genocide not just against the Shi’ites but minority ethnic groups in Plateau.
“The army troops killed an undetermined number–possibly hundreds according to some credible reports–of members of the Shia group Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in Zaria, Kaduna State, following an altercation at a roadblock that disrupted the convoy of the chief of army staff,” the report noted.
The report also notes that untold human rights abuses in Nigeria are perpetuated by the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram. The US government noted that the world’s most deadly terrorist organisation has committed genocide in the North East of Nigeria targeting Christians and school children. One of Buhari first executive actions when he assumed office was to approved amnesty for Boko Haram and the Nigerian military recently created as Safe Corridor for the terrorists in the theatre of war.
“The most serious human rights abuses included those committed by Boko Haram, which conducted numerous attacks on government and civilian targets that resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries, widespread destruction, the internal displacement of an estimated 1.8 million persons, and the external displacement of 220,000 Nigerian refugees to neighbouring countries,” the report states.
“Boko Haram continued to abduct men, women, and children, often in conjunction with large-scale attacks on communities. The group forced men, women, and children to fight on its behalf,” the report notes the tragic incidences of gender related crimes by the Islamist terrorist group.
“Women and girls abducted by Boko Haram were subjected to physical and psychological abuse; forced labor; forced marriage; forced religious conversions; forced participation in military operations; and sexual abuse, including rape.
“While the abductions of some of the women and girls seemed arbitrary, many of the victims appeared to have been targeted because they were students or Christians. Boko Haram also used women and girls to lure security forces into an ambush, force payment of ransoms, leverage prisoner exchanges, or provide wives to fighters,” the US government explained.
The Nigerian Army is also accused of using rape and torture as weapons of war in waging the war against Boko Haram. “In response to Boko Haram’s violent attacks and at times to crimes and insecurity in general security services perpetrated extra-judicial killings, and engaged in torture, rape, arbitrary detention, mistreatment of detainees, and destruction of property,” the report says.
“The country also suffered from widespread societal unrest, including ethnic, regional, and religious violence. Other serious human rights problems included vigilante killings; prolonged pre-trial detention, often in facilities with poor conditions; denial of fair public trial; executive influence on the judiciary; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; and restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and movement.
“There were reports during the year of official corruption; violence against women and children, including female genital mutilation/cutting; infanticide; sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; early and forced marriages; discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; discrimination based on ethnicity, regional origin, religion, and disability; forced and bonded labour; and child labour,” the report added.
The report also noted that Buhari has failed in delivering his promise of ‘change’, noting that widespread impunity continues at all levels of government, saying: “Although President Buhari’s administration began initial steps to curb corruption, authorities did not investigate or punish the majority of cases of police or military abuse.
“Boko Haram perpetrated numerous attacks, often directly targeting civilians. The group, which recruited and forcefully conscripted child soldiers, carried out bombings–including suicide bombings–and attacks on population centres in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Plateau, and Yobe States.
“In some cases, the group employed women and children as suicide bombers. The government investigated these attacks but prosecuted only a few members of Boko Haram.”
It said between November 2014 and February 2015, Boko Haram abducted more than 500 women and 1,000 children from one local government area in Borno State alone; subjecting many abducted women and girls to sexual and gender-based violence, including forced marriages and rape.
“Organised criminal forces in the southern and middle parts of the country committed abuses, such as kidnappings. Violence between farmers and herders in the North-central states claimed hundreds of lives,” it said.
The military and police were also indicted for using lethal and excessive force to disperse protesters in the country. Of recent, unarmed pro-Biafra protesters have been killed by Nigerian soldiers and activists have discovered mass graves and secret mortuaries where soldiers dumped the corpses of protesters after murdering them.
The report says Nigerian security agencies “used lethal and excessive force to apprehend criminals and suspects as well as to disperse protesters” and the government failed to hold the troops who committed these crimes accountable.
“Authorities generally did not hold police, military, or other security force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody. State and federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths did not make their findings public.
“Security forces’ use of excessive force, including live ammunition, to disperse demonstrators resulted in numerous killings,” it added.
You may read the full report HERE.