Amnesty accuses Nigeria over extrajudicial Boko Haram killings
Agence France-Presse in Lagos
Global rights watchdog Amnesty International accused Nigeria's military and its supporting civilian militia yesterday of "extensive human rights violations" in their fight against Boko Haram in the country's northeast.
Amnesty said gruesome video footage, images and witness testimonies gathered during a recent research mission to Borno state provided "fresh evidence of extrajudicial executions and serious human rights violations" carried out in the region as Nigerian troops battle the extremist group.
The footage includes images of detainees having their throats slit one by one and dumped in mass graves "by men who appear to be members of the Nigerian military and the Civilian Joint Task Force [CJTF], state-sponsored militias", it said.
"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," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty's secretary general. "These are not the images we expect from a government which sees itself as having a leadership role in Africa."
The video also showed the aftermath of a Boko Haram raid on a village in which the militant group killed nearly 100 people and destroyed scores of houses and buildings, Amnesty said.
"More than 4,000 people have been killed this year alone in the conflict [between] the Nigerian military and Boko Haram, including more than 600 extrajudicially executed," it added.
Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from their dormitory in April in northeastern Nigeria. The militants are still holding 219 girls captive.
Amnesty called on the Nigerian authorities to ensure that the military stops committing violations of human rights and urged detailed investigations into the most serious alleged cases.
Nigeria's defence ministry responded swiftly to the claims, saying it took the allegations "very seriously". It said the military high had command established a team of senior officers, legal and forensic experts to study Amnesty's footage and "allegations of infractions in order to ascertain the veracity of the claims with a view to identifying those behind the acts".