Amnesty International (AI) has accused Nigerian army of forcible detention of innocent people and displacement of villages in response to a recent escalation in attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in Maiduguri, Borno State.
In a fresh report on Friday, February 14, 2020, AI alleged that the Nigerian army burnt three villages and detained six men from the displaced villages at Maimalari military barracks in Maiduguri for about a month after which they were freed without any charge, thereby violating international humanitarian rights.
“These brazen acts of razing entire villages, deliberately destroying civilian homes and forcibly displacing their inhabitants with no imperative military grounds, should be investigated as possible war crimes,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“They repeat a longstanding pattern of the Nigerian military’s brutal tactics against the civilian population. Forces allegedly responsible for such violations must be suspended immediately and brought to justice.”
Punch reports that AI accused the military of deploying unlawful tactics, especially beginning December 2019, in response to Boko Haram attacks along the important road between Maiduguri and Damaturu, the capitals of Borno and Yobe States.
AI reported that residents of Bukarti, Ngariri and Matiri villages near Maiduguri-Damaturu road said soldiers arrived on Friday, January 3, 2020, and “went house to house and to surrounding farmland, forcing everyone to gather under a tree and by a graveyard” after which they were forced to board large trucks and saw them burn their villages.
“The trucks then took more than 400 women, men, and children to an internally displaced persons camp near Maiduguri.”
AI said the displacement of the inhabitants of these villages, where their security or imperative military reasons did not demand so, constituted a war crime, adding that the subsequent burning of their homes might amount to a war crime as well.
“The Nigerian government must not brush these violations under the carpet. They must be investigated, and alleged perpetrators must be prosecuted. Necessary steps must also be taken to ensure that military operations do not further forcibly displace civilian populations,” Ojigho added.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau has threathened to attack President Muhammadu Buhari if he sets foot again in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“Buhari came to Maiduguri pretending to be a good man but he is not. He shouldn’t try to return to Maiduguri again,” Shekau said in Hausa language.