Is the Nigerian Army Guilty of Mass Killings?
Amnesty International footage appears to depict executions
Human rights organization Amnesty International has posted video footage apparently depicting Nigerian army personnel and paramilitary groups murdering suspected supporters of the militant group Boko Haram.
The footage focuses on events in northeastern Nigeria, where Boko Haram is most active. We see checkpoints manned by members of the so-called “Civilian Joint Task Force,” a state-sanctioned militia composed of local self-defense units.
In the video, these pro-government stop cars while brandishing cudgels and machetes.
CJTF forces are also present in a scene that shows what Amnesty International believes is army personnel rounding up dozens of men in the town of Bama.
The government troops strip-search the men and separate them into groups. There are beatings. A narrator explains that the men later were later found dead, with bullets in their chests and heads.
We see a group of men sitting in front of a freshly-dug hole in the ground. Troops carrying AK-47s and long knives watch over the captives. According to Amnesty International, experts have traced at least one of the rifles back to the 81st Battalion of the Nigerian army, stationed in Borno state.
One by one, the troops lead the prisoners to the hole and force them to lie down next to it. Soldiers and civilians hold their head, feet and hands. The video doesn’t actually show the executions, presumably because they were too awful for YouTube.
But blood stains the sand next to the hole. We can see several bodies in the hole.
Amnesty International’s footage also details the aftermath of a Boko Haram attack that killed more than 100 people, but the focus is on the government’s atrocities.
“These are not the images we expect from a government which sees itself as having a leadership role in Africa,” says Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general. “The ghastly images are backed up by the numerous testimonies we have gathered which suggest that extrajudicial executions are, in fact, regularly carried out by the Nigerian military and CJTF.”
“This shocking new evidence is further proof of the appalling crimes being committed with abandon by all sides in the conflict,” Shetty continues. “Nigerians deserve better—what does it say when members of the military carry out such unspeakable acts and capture the images on film?”
By far the most deaths result from violence involving both Boko Haram and security forces. Civilians get caught in the crossfire. “Sadly, the same communities are now being terrorized in turn by Boko Haram and the military alike,” Shetty says.