Nigerian Military Discredits Amnesty Report

Nigerian military, AmnestyThe Nigerian military has described as false, the recent Amnesty report which says that at least 149 detainees have died “in horrendous conditions” at a military detention centre in northeast Nigeria in 2016.

The disclaimer was made by the Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Rage Abubakar, who said the report was an ‘attempt to score cheap point’.

According to him, contrary to the claims of Amnesty, the International Human Rights Organisation and other organisations have had access to the detention centre.

“A Place Of Death”

Abubakar stated that some of their recommendations had been implemented, wondering where the report emanated from, especially when the writer claimed he did not have access to the facility.

He urged the international organisation not to work as a distraction to the military, as it enters its final phase in the war against terror.

In the report, Amnesty said 11 of those who died at the Giwa Barracks were young children, including four babies.

The organisation called the centre “a place of death” and said it should be closed.

Army, Boko Haram Engage In War At Shuwari, Borno State

MaiduguriChannels Television Borno State Corespondent, Blessing Tunor, says their is ongoing shelling in the city of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, which has thrown residents into panic and confusion.

Soldiers around the Giwa Barracks area have ordered residents to keep off the streets and stay home.

Spokesperson of the 7 Division, Maiduguri, Col. Tukur Gusau says the shelling is in a nearby village, Shuwari, where a military operation is currently ongoing.

The operation is coming after an afternoon explosion was reported in a market in Damboa Local Government where more than 40 traders are feared to have died.

Maiduguri town has been awash with speculations of an impending attack on the city since the Damboa incident filtered into town.

Army Sends Advance Team To Maiduguri For Military Command

Military CommandThe Nigerian military has sent a reconnaissance and advance team to Maiduguri, Borno State for the establishment of the Military Command and Control Centre (MCCC) for ‘Operation Zaman Lafiya’.

This is in compliance with the Presidential pronouncement and the Chief of Army Staff’s directive for the fight against terrorism and insurgency.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sanni Usman, said, “The team, which is led by a 2-Star General, has already commenced work in earnest and it is comprised of elements of the Office of the Chief of Army Staff, all the relevant Army Headquarters Departments and other combat support components.”

The Centre, according to Col. Usman, will serve as a forward command base for the Chief of Army Staff and other Service Chiefs.

He added that the Military Command Centre is essentially an elaboration of an already existing Army Headquarters Command and Control arrangement which will monitor, coordinate and control the fight against terrorism and insurgency would be coordinated and controlled from this centre.

He said that the MCCC would not create another layer of command structure but would add renewed vigour to the ‘Operation Zaman Lafiya’.

He also said that an alternate command centre is also being established in Yola.

Opinions Differ On Relocation of Command Centre To Maiduguri

Command CentreBorno State has been on the receiving end from Boko Haram attacks but there are high hopes of a turn of events as the Command Centre relocates to Maiduguri.

The Nigerian President announced the planned relocation of the Command Centre to Borno State during his inauguration on Friday, May 29 and Nigerians have continued to comment on the directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The former Minister of Education and leader of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign organisation, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili says Nigerians should just wait to see how that speech will be translated into action.

Mrs Ezekwesili, who spoke to Channels Television in Abuja, described the speech as inspiring as it is loaded with action, one of the attributes of a good speech.

She, however, noted that translating the speech into positive results is what would determine if it was indeed a great speech, starting with the rescue of the Chibok girls.

A security expert, Capt. Aliyu Umar, is also one of those who believe that the decision to move the Command Centre to Maiduguri was a good one.

He said that the relocation would give the military the edge to fight the militants, recalling several instances where similar decisions had yielded positive results.

Capt. Umar said that the Nigerian Army might not have had a high number of soldiers running away from battle if their commanders had been around.

The retired Nigerian Army officer also frowned at times in the past when military chiefs have had to stay back in Abuja waiting to be told what was happening in the North-east, highlighting the constant breakdown of communications as a major set back in Nigeria’s fight against insurgency.

Vulnerable And Attractive Target

Another Security Consultant, Dr Onah Ekhomu, however, believes that moving the military command centre to Maiduguri may not yield the desired results in the long run, because of the transformation of Boko Haram’s tactics into pure terror.

He said that the decision would make the command centre a vulnerable and attractive target for the insurgents, recalling the spirited attacks that the insurgents have launched on the Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri in the past.

According to him, it takes one IED to destroy an entire facility.

Dr. Ekhomu also stated that effectively combating the group’s terror would require more of intelligence assets, more planning and a strategic assessment of Boko Haram’s capabilities.

A command centre is any place that is used to provide centralised command for some purpose.

It is sometimes considered to be a military facility, but the centre enables an organisation to function as designed, to perform day to day operations regardless of what is happening around it, in a manner in which no one realises it is there.

The command cenrtre is a source of leadership and guidance.

Army Foils Terrorist Plot To Cause Havoc In Maiduguri

Boko haram counter-terrorism forcesThe Defence Headquarters on Thursday said that a plot by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, to use two female suicide bombers to cause havoc in Maiduguri was foiled by troops, who successfully dislodged the terrorists.

Security sources revealed that two female suicide bombers detonated bombs, ahead of their attack on Ladi Kayamla near Maiduguri the Borno State capital, on Wednesday, with a plan to follow up with an attack but were swiftly routed by the Nigerian Army in the area.

The military added that the attack, which was apparently diversionary with the intention of slowing down the ongoing assault on Sambisa forest, was believed to have been carried out by terrorists escaping from their destroyed camp.

However, the Director, Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, who confirmed the incident reassured that normalcy had been restored, adding that the army have conducted mop up operation of the area.

Members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, had launched an attack on Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, northeast Nigeria.

Our correspondent in Maiduguri, Blessing Tunor, confirmed that there were heavy gunshots, adding that residents in the state scampered to their homes when they got wind of the attack, while those living close to Giwa Barracks ran in different directions to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

The Boko haram militants have suffered losses in recent times, following a fresh onslaught by the Nigerian military, leading to the recapture of territories formerly controlled by the insurgents and the rescue of over a thousand people held in captivity in various locations in the northeast, many of them women and children.

Only recently, the military announced that it had raided Sambisa Forest, believed to be the last stronghold of the terrorists, and rescued numerous women and children as well.

Amnesty International Accuses Army, Boko Haram Of Committing International Law Crimes

Army_BokoThe Amnesty International says it has, through ongoing research since 2009, gathered evidence that raises reasonable belief that Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian military have committed crimes under international law in the context of the conflict in north-east Nigeria.

The human rights group also claimed that while the government had the obligation to investigate, and where appropriate, prosecute and punish crimes under international law, there have not been sufficiently prompt, independent and effective investigations into allegations raised by it and other organisations.

Amnesty International in a written statement to the 28th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, said the Nigerian security forces in its response to Boko Haram had committed serious human right violations. The evidence in Amnesty International’s possession suggests that Nigeria’s military has also committed crimes under international law, which may include war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Extrajudicial Execution

The agency added that it was concerned by the “deaths of more than one thousand suspects in military detention facilities as a result of extrajudicial executions, torture, starvation, disease, suffocation or other reasons associated with extremely poor conditions.

According to the group, there are extrajudicial executions by the military of men while in detention or upon arrest.

The statement also alleged that “on 14 March 2014, Nigerian soldiers executed more than 640 recaptured detainees in Maiduguri, after they were released during a Boko Haram attack on Giwa barracks.

“In August 2014 Amnesty International published video footage showing soldiers and CJTF members cutting the throats of six of these recaptured detainees in front of two open mass graves”, adding that “eyewitness accounts says nine people were killed in this way, while eight others were shot to death”.

Amnesty International further alleged that “the military has tortured suspects in custody and kept them in overcrowded cells, without access to adequate sanitary facilities, food, water or medical care,” insisting that “these conditions amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

“The military has arrested large numbers of civilians since 2009 without reasonable grounds, including through using unreliable hidden informants to screen entire communities of villages and towns in Borno and Yobe states. The military has also arrested relatives of Boko Haram suspects in lieu of the suspect.

“In detention centres in the north-east and other locations in Nigeria, detainees have not had access to their families, lawyers or adequate medical attention. Those detained are allegedly held because they are members or supporters of Boko Haram, but most have never been charged and have not been brought before a court,” it maintained.

Immediate And Affective Measures

The group also noted that it has collected evidence showing that that Boko Haram has committed crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity and called for Boko Haram to be investigated for crimes under international law, including killings of civilians, imprisonment and abductions, forced marriages, rape and sexual slavery, recruitment and use of child soldiers, pillage and targeting civilian objects.

Amnesty International urged the government of Nigeria to “initiate an independent, impartial, and thorough investigations into allegations of crimes under international law, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed by members of Boko Haram and the Nigerian military”, maintaining that “where sufficient admissible evidence is gathered, alleged perpetrators should be prosecuted in fair trials, without recourse to the death penalty.

“Take immediate and effective measures to guarantee the safety, security and protection of civilians and their property , and increase efforts to secure the lives and integrity of the civilians in accordance with its regional and international human rights obligations.

“Ensure that its security forces and members of the “Civilian Joint Task Force” adhere strictly to their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular, ensure that detainees are protected from extrajudicial executions, torture and other ill-treatment and are treated humanely at all times.

“Ensure that no-one is arrested or detained in relation to the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crimes allegedly committed by members of Boko Haram in the absence of reasonable grounds to suspect them of responsibility for a recognisable criminal offence; Ensure that domestic law and practice relating to the detentions of suspects conform fully with international human rights treaties ratified by Nigeria as well as international human rights standards.

“Immediately ensure that no one is held in life-threatening or inhumane conditions and to this end, either immediately release all individuals detained by the military or ensure that they are transferred into the lawful custody of the police and brought immediately before a court to determine the legality of their detention.

“Issue invitations to the Special Rapporteurs on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to visit Nigeria.

Amnesty International also urged the Human Rights Council, its members and observer states at the 28th session, to call on Nigeria to respond positively to the requests to visit Nigeria made by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, in fulfilment of recommendations Nigeria supported at the 17th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Nigerian Soldiers’ Wives Protest Husbands’ Deployment

Nigerian Soldiers' WivesHundreds of Nigerian soldiers’ wives who took to the streets in Maiduguri on Monday to protest the deployment of their husbands for military duties in Gwoza, in Borno, were asked to return home as their husbands were under oath to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

The Nigerian soldiers’ wives, who eventually settled at the main military barracks in north-eastern Maiduguri city, had questioned the insistence of the Federal Government in continuing to wage war against the insurgents despite limited military facilities.

The Director of Defence Information, Major -General Chris Olukolade, told Channels Television that the issue being raised by the women was unacceptable.

According to him, “It is not normal or proper for any officer or soldier to decide where he or she would be deployed, neither would such demand be encouraged from spouses in a period of serious operation.”

He also explained that the entire nation was depending on the Army to address the security challenges, therefore it was wrong for spouses to begin what he called a cowardly act which was capable of demoralising the military.

Maiduguri Attack Was Terrorists’ Foiled Attempt To Free Detained Colleagues – Army

Troops advancing for an operationThe Nigerian Army has said that the attacks on a Military barracks in Maiduguri on Friday morning was a move by pockets of terrorists to boost their depleted stock of fighters by freeing their colleagues who are being held in detention.

This is according to a statement by the Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade.

The statement read: “The attack has been successfully repelled with heavy human casualty on the terrorists.  Some of the victims of the terrorists’ fire in their efforts to break into the detention facility included those they came to rescue.

“Many of the terrorists and their weapons have been captured.  Four soldiers were wounded and are being treated.  Hot pursuits by land and air operations are ongoing along with cordon and search of surrounding localities.

“No institution has been reported attacked, although the effect of firing from the encounter could be noticed in surrounding facilities in Maiduguri.”

The military statement, while promising to give more details later, added that it believed that the terrorists’ attempt was in response to the intensity of attacks on their strongholds in camps at Talala, Monguzum, Sambisa forests, Gwoza, Mandara mountains as well as the general area of Lake Chad, where the “camps have been destroyed and many insurgents killed.”

Large Bomb Explosions Rock Maiduguri

FILE ExplosionThree large explosions suspected to be a major bomb attack has just been experienced in the city of Maiduguri in Borno State.

There is no information yet on the impact of the purported attack on lives and property, but our sources say that the three explosions were heard across different parts of the city.

Eyewitness say suspected insurgents dressed in Army uniforms have laid siege on the Army barracks command located at the GRA area of Borno State, in an attempt to bomb and take over the major military base known as “Giwa Barracks” in Maiduguri.

Gunfight is said to be intense in the area.

Insurgents Have Also Attacked The University of Maiduguri

Uni MaiduguriReports from students of the University Of Maiduguri also confirm that the insurgents have laid siege on the school.

Maiduguri the capital of Borno State in Nigeria’s north-east has been under siege after insurgents, dressed in military uniforms attacked the Army Brigade Command popularly known as the ”Giwa Barracks in the GRA area of the state capital.

Prior to these attacks three loud explosions shook the town.

Earlier on we spoke to a resident of the town on telephone, who said they have remained in doors for fear of being attacked by the insurgents.

 

Northern Elders Threaten To Drag Ihejirika To ICC Over Extra-Judicial Killings

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has threatened to drag the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, and some other top military officers to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for alleged extra-judicial killings.

The news comes barely 48 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan removed the nation’s service chiefs from office.

The Northern Elders in a communique signed by its spokesman, Professor Ango Abdullahi, at the end of its meeting in Kaduna, accused the outgoing Chief of Army Staff and six others of alleged extra-judicial killings and strangulation of civilians by soldiers in Bama and Giwa Barracks in Borno State, using an underground detention centre.

While the statement did not mention the six other persons involved, Abdullahi said that the forum had earlier set up two investigative committees to probe the use of soldiers against civilians in Bama and some parts of Borno State.

“The Forum has therefore resolved to harmonise the reports of the two committees, preparatory to filing a case of extra-judicial killings by the Nigerian Army under the then Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Azubuike Ihejirika and six others.

“The reports will be harmonised at our emergency meeting in Abuja on Wednesday the 22nd of January 2014, for further action”, the statement read.