By Igho Oyoyo
A report by a British newspaper, Daily Independent, UK, has accused the Nigerian government of allegedly committing war crimes by terrorising some of its citizens in its battle against the deadly Boko Haram sect.
Relying on a documentary it said will be broadcast this night, the paper reported yesterday that human rights investigators believe that 4,000 people have died in military custody since Boko Haram began its attacks in Nigeria two years ago.
According to the report, while Nigeria is currently Africa’s biggest economy, in the North which serves as home to most of the nation’s 80 million Muslims and the heartland of the Islamist extremist group, the people are among the poorest in the country.
It noted that the Boko Haram sect had killed more than 2,000 people this year alone, most of them civilians.
It further stated that the Nigerian Army took control of local militias, young Muslim men who had gathered together to help identify Boko Haram members living in their communities, adding that President Goodluck Jonathan hailed this militia as “new national heroes.”
The report further alleges: “The militias armed themselves with machetes, cutlasses and even bows and arrows. They adopted the official title “Civilian Joint Taskforce.”
In their hunt for the insurgents, the militia swept through remote towns and villages, even in communities where they had little local knowledge.
“The militia used these tactics in a town called Dikwa, around the start of Ramadan 2013 and filmed some of their operations. The videos show the militia acting as if everyone was a potential terrorist.
Other videos suggest little hard evidence was used to identify Boko Haram suspects.
Instead they denounced individuals on the basis of bizarre clues: thorns in the sandals from being in the bush; bruises supposedly caused by carrying guns or even a suspicious expression”.