NIGERIA – Nigerian military accused of burning villages, displacing civilians in Boko Haram fight

CP | Samuel Smith | February 18, 2020

The Nigerian military has been accused by a leading human rights watchdog of razing villages and displacing hundreds of residents in its quest to defeat extremist groups Boko Haram and the Islamic State. The military, however, has contested those allegations.

In a report based on interviews with impacted villagers in Nigeria’s Borno state, Amnesty International stated last Friday that the Nigerian military has burned and forcibly displaced entire villages in response to a rise in extremist attacks in the region. 

The United Kingdom-based nongovernmental organization reports that the Nigerian military also arbitrarily detained six men from the displaced villages and held them incommunicado for nearly one month before being released on Jan. 30. 

“These brazen acts of razing entire villages, deliberately destroying civilian homes and forcibly displacing their inhabitants with no imperative military grounds should be investigated as possible war crimes,” Amnesty International Nigeria Director Osai Ojigho said in a statement. 

“They repeat a longstanding pattern of the Nigerian military’s brutal tactics against the civilian population. Forces allegedly responsible for such violations must be suspended immediately and brought to justice.”

The alleged military action comes as Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province have carried out a number of deadly attacks in northeastern Nigeria since December 2019. 

During a recent research mission to the Borno state, Amnesty International interviewed 12 women and men who were forced to flee from their homes in three villages near the Maiduguri-Damaturu road on Jan. 3 and Jan. 4.