(GIN)—A new report released by Amnesty International lays blame on Nigerian security forces for the detention and deaths of hundreds of civilians in the military’s ongoing war against Boko Haram, an Islamist group in the country’s north-east.
Hundreds of prisoners suffocated in overcrowded cells, others died from starvation and extra-judicial killings, according to the report.
The Nigerian army has rejected all previous accusations of human right abuses but the report cites an account by a senior Nigerian army officer who admitted to Amnesty that at least 950 people died in military custody in the first half of the year.
Most were said to have links to the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, Amnesty said.
A large proportion of these deaths were reported in Giwa military barracks, Maiduguri in Borno State and Sector Alpha, commonly referred to as ‘Guantanamo’ and Presidential Lodge (known as ‘Guardroom’) in Damaturu, Yobe State.
According to former detainees interviewed by Amnesty, people died on an almost daily basis in both Giwa and Sector Alpha from suffocation or other injuries due to overcrowding and starvation. Some suffered serious injuries due to severe beating and eventually died in detention due to lack of medical attention and treatment.
These interviews also revealed that in some cases detainees may have been extra-judicially executed. Some described soldiers taking detainees from their cells threatening to shoot and kill them. In many cases the detainees never returned. Others were reportedly shot in the leg during interrogation, provided no medical care and left to bleed to death.
In July, Human Rights Watch said 3,600 people had died in conflict related to the Boko Haram uprising since 2009, including killings by the security forces.
Nigerian security forces have been criticized by rights groups in the past for its approach to the war on the Boko Haram, often firing randomly in civilian areas or arbitrarily rounding up young men as suspects.
Meanwhile, it was reported that President Goodluck Jonathan will lead more than
30,000 Christian pilgrims on an upcoming trip to Israel. The President is expected to arrive on Oct. 23. He’ll be joined by several members of his administration and by other governors.
President Jonathan, who is the first sitting Nigerian Christian president to visit Israel, is expected to sign a Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and Israel, making it easier for Christian pilgrims to visit.
Category: Africa Briefs