By Joy Baba with agency report
Up to 4,000 people have died in Nigerian military custody since 2012, human rights investigators believe.
The Federal government has been fighting the insurgent group Boko Haram for the last two years and has since launched a “counter-terrorist” operation. It declared a state of emergency in three northern states. Thousands of troops have since been sent into the area.
The army also took control of local Muslim militia, whose job is to identify Boko Haram members in their own communities. They were given powers to detain anyone who they wanted.
And new footage disclosed to Channel 4 directly implicates the Nigerian military in abuse of detainees.
Meanwhile, the military authorities have denied a media report that 4,000 people died in military custody.
The media report credited to the British newspaper, Daily Independent, claimed that Nigerian soldiers committed war crimes by terrorising local residents in areas worst-hit by Boko Haram insurgency.
In a terse rebuttal posted on its website on Monday, the Defence Headquarters accused the British paper of disdain and bias against Nigeria.
The statement read in part: “The report credited to the British Newspaper, Daily Independent, UK in which it claimed that Nigerian government ‘committed war crimes by terrorising some of its citizens in the war against insurgency’ is to say the least, unduly judgmental and quite consistent with the disdain and bias with which a section of the western media reports Africa.
“Is it not preposterous to even suggest that ‘4,000 people have died in military custody…’ when it is on record that suspected terrorists are held in various facilities while being processed for prosecution? At what point then did 4000 people die in military custody?
“This ludicrous report did not come as a surprise to anybody since this biased mind-set against Nigerian government has always characterised this newspaper even before the commencement of the ongoing counter-terrorist operation.”
The DHQ further accused the newspaper of unprofessionalism, saying that what it wrote was “unsubstantiated and bogus” allegation to President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. It said that no credible independent source or government official was contacted to ascertain the truth of the “wild claims,” saying “yet the sanctimonious and all-knowing Daily Independent could not exercise any restraint to be sure of its story.”
The Nigerian military however urged Nigerians to ignore the British newspaper report or any future video it may post on its website.