Killings by security forces in north Nigeria must stop

News
July 14, 2011

Killings by security forces in north Nigeria must stop

Amnesty International and prominent Nigerian human rights organizations have called for an immediate end to arbitrary and unlawful killings by Nigerian security forces in response to bombings by the Islamist group, Boko Haram.

The Human Rights Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association Maiduguri Branch, the Legal Aid Council of Borno State, Nigerian NGOs and Amnesty International have jointly condemned the attacks.

"Since January more than 140 people have been killed in the Boko Haram bombings in the north of the country, including members of the police, but this does not absolve the Nigerian government of its responsibility to protect human rights during security sweeps," said Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Africa, Tawanda Hondora

"Amnesty International opposes these abhorrent killings both by the Nigerian armed forces and by Boko Haram. They must be stopped immediately."

In Kaleri Ngomari Custain, in Maiduguri, on Saturday 9 July at least 25 people were killed and at least 45  wounded, including women and children, when the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) cordoned off a bomb site and went from house to house, shooting and arresting people living in the area. Many men and boys have been reported missing. According to eyewitnesses, the security forces burnt down several houses, forcing their occupants to flee.
 
Reports say members of the security forces have repeatedly threatened to shoot everyone in the area if they fail to tip them off about future bombs. As a result thousands of people living in Maiduguri have already left the city; and many more continue to do so.

Amnesty International calls on the Nigerian government to investigate the killings and bring to justice anyone found responsible for these heinous crimes. Allegations of rape of women by members of the Joint Task Force should also be investigated.
 
“Nigeria must not promote security at the expense of human rights” says Tawanda Hondora “Killings and illegal detentions just serve to fuel resentment against the security forces and undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and the government” he added.
 
Amnesty International and Nigerian NGOs urge President Goodluck Jonathan to state publicly that anyone found responsible for killings during security operations in Northern Nigeria will be brought to justice. In addition, the President must make public the commission of inquiry report into the Boko Haram crisis of 2009.

In July 2009, a week of clashes between members of Boko Haram and security forces in Borno, Kano, Katsina and Yobe states, left more than 800 people, including 24 police officers, dead.

A committee was set up in August 2009 to "investigate the circumstances leading to the [2009] crisis including the alleged killing of the leader of Boko Haram and the slaughter or killing of over 17 Police officers. Neither the findings nor the recommendations were ever made public.

On 13 July 2011 six police officers suspected of the extrajudicial execution of Muhammad Yusuf appeared in court. It is expected that they will be arraigned on 19 July.

Since July 2010, attacks by Boko Haram have increased, targeting police officers and government officials. More than 250 people have been killed.

Since June 2011, Boko Haram has also attacked bars and beer gardens, killing scores of residents.
 
Nigerian security forces have a history of carrying out extra-judicial executions, torture and other ill-treatment. There are consistent reports that the Nigeria Police Force executes detainees in custody, suspected armed robbers under arrest, people who refuse to pay bribes or people stopped during road checks. The Nigerian military are also frequently involved in extra-judicial executions.