731 views | Akanimo Sampson | January 17, 2021
Boko Haram and its splinter faction ISWAP are still carrying out attacks against civilians and humanitarian workers in the North-East axis of Nigeria, a global rights group, Human Rights Watch says.
While pointing out that military authorities continued to impose ‘’undue restrictions and requirements’’ on humanitarian agencies in the troubled region, which allegedly impede their ability to deliver timely and effective aid and run contrary to the humanitarian principle of independence, the group also adds that inter-communal violence continued in many parts of Nigeria.
These facts are contained in the group’s 2021 World Report on Nigeria.
According to the report, in one of its deadliest attacks, Boko Haram reportedly killed about 81 people, injured 10 and abducted seven others in Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State in June, adding, days later, Boko Haram staged additional attacks in Gubio, Ngazai and Mongonu LGAs, killing at least 40 people and damaging a major humanitarian facility.
‘’In January, ISWAP released a video of a boy it depicted as a member executing a man identified as a Christian hostage. Also in January, Boko Haram insurgents abducted and executed Reverend Lawan Andimi, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, in Adamawa State.
‘’In the same month, suspected Boko Haram insurgents attacked a United Nations facility housing several aid groups in Ngala, Borno State. At least 20 IDPs awaiting assistance at the facility were killed, according to media reports.
‘’In July, five men including three humanitarian workers were executed by the Islamist insurgents, who circulated a video of the execution on social media.
‘’Boko Haram also launched a deadly attack against Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum’s convoy on September 27, as he was returning to the state capital, Maiduguri, from Baga. At least 18 people, including four civilians were killed.
‘’The attack came two days after the governor survived another attack while traveling to an area near Lake Chad. His convoy was also ambushed earlier in July by insurgents’’, the report states.
Continuing, it said humanitarian agencies were restricted from operating outside government-controlled areas and must undergo lengthy processes to obtain compulsory authorisation for moving personnel, cash, and cargo carrying relief materials in the northeast region, among other restrictions.
In April, armed bandits killed at least 47 people in a coordinated attack on several villages in Katsina State in the northwest.
According to the UN refugee agency, at least 1,126 people died between January and June in the northwest region, 210,000 people were internally displaced and over 70,000 fled to seek refuge in Niger as at August due to the insecurity in the region.
In the southern Kaduna State, media reported that gunmen killed at least 43 people, between July 21 to 24, and that 178 people were killed between January and July across southern Kaduna communities.
In April, at least 19 people were killed and about 100 houses burned in fighting between members of different ethnic groups in the northeastern Taraba State who were disputing fishing rights.
In September, a military court dismissed and sentenced an army officer to a prison term of five years for “assaulting and defiling” a 13-year-old girl in 2018 while serving in Borno.
Beyond this, there was little progress on accountability for security force abuses within the context of the northeast conflict. The report of the Presidential Judicial Panel set up in August 2017 to investigate the military’s compliance with human rights obligations, allegations of war crimes, and other abuses has still not been made public despite repeated calls from civil society and international actors.
Trials for hundreds of suspected Boko Haram insurgents slated for February in Maiduguri were postponed until further notice, following previous delays in January and in December 2019.
Boko Haram suspects last faced trials in July 2018. Most of the more than 200 defendants in the July 2018 trials faced charges of material and non-violent support for Boko Haram, and some had been detained since 2009.
The trials were fraught with irregularities including lack of interpreters, inadequate legal defense, lack of prosecutable evidence or witnesses, and non-participation of victims.
Nigeria’s military released at least 333 children who were detained in the northeast for up to five years on suspicion of being Boko Haram members.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) continued its preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria, which focuses on alleged crimes against humanity or war crimes committed in the Niger Delta, the Middle-Belt states, and the conflict between Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces.