Amnesty International, a global human rights movement, has chronicled how some African countries, including Nigeria, have failed in protecting citizens from war crimes and human rights violations.
This was contained in its 2019 report which was sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday.
In its regional overview, the rights movement stated that many countries as well as international peacekeepers have failed in their obligation to protect civilians from war crimes and other serious human rights violations committed by armed groups including killings, torture, abductions and mass displacements.
“In eastern DRC, local police and nearby UN peacekeepers stayed in their camps while armed groups killed at least 70 civilians in Beni during November. In Nigeria, security forces failed to protect civilians in the northeast as Boko Haram carried out over 30 attacks resulting in at least 378 civilian deaths and the displacement of thousands of people.”
According to Amnesty International (AI), residents of some attacked towns and villages reported that Nigerian security forces had withdrawn their protection shortly before the attacks.
“In Cameroon’s Far north region, civilians protested against the lack of state protection and their feeling of abandonment amidst Boko Haram’s surge in attacks during which at least 275 people were killed and others mutilated or kidnapped,” it added.
Of the 2.3 million people displaced in Nigeria by the Boko Haram conflict since May 2013, at least 250,000 have left Nigeria and fled into Cameroon, Chad or Niger.
Boko Haram killed over 6,600 in 2014, AI said. The group has carried out mass abductions including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in April 2014.
In 2014, the militants gained control of the territory in and around their home state of Borno.
On March 7, 2015, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, rebranding as Islamic State in West Africa. The terror group has since split into different factions.
President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government officials had on several occasions announced that the government has ‘technically’ defeated the terrorists although a lot of fatal attacks are still being carried out by the insurgent group.
How Nigeria has fared
In its review of human rights violation in Nigeria, AI stated that the attacks by Boko Haram had resulted in hundreds of deaths, occasioned by security forces’ failure to protect civilians.
“Boko Haram continued to carry out attacks, abductions and killings of civilians in the Northeast. The armed group carried out at least 31 attacks that resulted in at least 378 civilian.”
“The Nigeria Army, Police and State Security Service continued to torture and ill-treat detainees. Communal violence continued in some parts of the country. Freedoms of assembly, association and expression were all under attack as the country witnessed an increasing shrinking civic space. The government also disobeyed several court orders.”
In addition, at least 96 people were killed in violent clashes between members of farmers’ and herders’ communities.
On impunity, the group noted that little progress was made in securing accountability for human rights violations and abuses committed by security forces.
“No one was brought to justice for the killing of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) protestors in different states.”
This paper reported several clashes between security operatives and IMN members popularly addressed as Shiites over the incarceration of its leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Mr El-Zakzaky has been detained since December 2015 when soldiers killed over 300 of his followers for blocking a public road to be used by the army chief, Tukur Buratai.
The cleric and his wife are being prosecuted for their roles in the death of a soldier during the violence. No soldier is being prosecuted for the massacre of the Shiites
Freedom Of Expression
Amnesty also stated that the right to freedom of expression remained increasingly restricted in Nigeria.
“Journalists, bloggers and media activists who asked federal and state authorities probing questions were variously charged with cybercrime and terrorism under the Cybercrime Act of 2015 and Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act of 2013. Amnesty International documented 19 cases of assault, arbitrary arrests, and detention of journalists.”
PREMIUM TIMES recalls the unlawful detention of Jones Abiri, a journalist from Bayelsa, and Agba Jalingo, another journalist who works with Cross River Watch and accused the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade, of corruption.
Both journalists spent several months in detention but are now on bail while their trial continues.