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Gruesome video footage, images and testimonies gathered by Amnesty International provide fresh evidence of war crimes, including extrajudicial executions, and other serious human rights violations being carried out in north-eastern Nigeria as the fight by the military against Boko Haram and other armed groups intensifies.
The footage, obtained from numerous sources during a recent trip to Borno state according to Amnesty International, reveals graphic evidence of multiple war crimes being carried out in Nigeria.
It includes horrific images of detainees having their throats slit one by one and dumped in mass graves by men who appear to be members of the Nigerian military and the “Civilian Joint Task Force” (CJTF), state-sponsored militias. It also shows the aftermath of a Boko Haram raid on a village in which the armed group killed nearly 100 people and destroyed or badly damaged scores of homes and other buildings.
“This shocking new evidence is further proof of the appalling crimes being committed with abandon by all sides in the conflict. Nigerians deserve better – what does it say when members of the military carry out such unspeakable acts and capture the images on film?” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“These are not the images we expect from a government which sees itself as having a leadership role in Africa. 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.”
More than 4,000 people have been killed this year alone in the conflict by the Nigerian military and Boko Haram, including more than 600 extrajudicially executed following the Giwa Barracks attack on 14 March in Maiduguri.
In recent months, the conflict has intensified in north-eastern Nigeria, spreading to smaller towns and villages which are now increasingly on the front line. In July 2014 Damboa in Borno state became the first town to fall under the control of Boko Haram since President Goodluck Jonathan declared the State of Emergency in May 2013.
The heavy-handed behaviour of the military also caused shock waves in Kaduna state in July. Twelve people from a mostly-Shia sect led by Sheikh El Zakzaky appear to have been killed in custody by the Nigerian military. They were arrested after taking part in an apparently peaceful protest, in which 21 other protesters, including two children, were also killed after the military opened fire on them.
Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian authorities to ensure that the military stops committing human rights and humanitarian law violations. All reports of extrajudicial executions and other war crimes and serious violations must be investigated promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially, with those responsible – up the entire chain of command – brought to justice.
“Members of Boko Haram and other armed groups are responsible for a huge number of heinous crimes – like the abduction of the schoolgirls in Chibok more than three months ago – but the military are supposed to defend people, not to carry out further abuses themselves,” said Salil Shetty.
“A state of emergency must not give way to a state of lawlessness. Sadly, the same communities are now being terrorized in turn by Boko Haram and the military alike.”