AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT 2016/17 NIGERIA
The conflict between the military and the armed group Boko Haram continued and generated a humanitarian crisis that affected more than 14 million people. The security forces continued to commit serious human rights violations including extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. The police and military continued to commit torture and other ill-Amnesty International Report 2016/17 277 treatment. Conditions in military detention were harsh. Communal violence occurred in many parts of the country. Thousands of people were forcibly evicted from their homes.
Boko Haram continued to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in the northeast, affecting 14.8 million people. The group continued to carry out attacks and small-scale raids throughout the year. The national and regional armed forces recaptured major towns from Boko Haram’s control.
In its response to Boko Haram attacks, the military continued to carry out arbitrary arrests, detentions, ill-treatment and extrajudicial executions of people suspected of being Boko Haram fighters − acts which amounted to war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
In May, 737 men detained as Boko Haram suspects by the army were transferred to the prison in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.
They were charged for being “incorrigible vagabonds”, which carried up to two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine.
In April, the Defence Ministry started Operation Safe Corridor to “rehabilitate repentant and surrendered Boko Haram fighters” in a camp.
On 13 October, 21 Chibok schoolgirls abducted in 2014 were released by Boko Haram fighters following negotiations. One more girl was found in November; about 195 Chibok schoolgirls remained missing at the end of the year.
INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE
There remained at least 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Nigeria; 80% of them lived in host communities, while the remainder lived in camps. The camps in Maiduguri remained overcrowded, with inadequate access to food, clean water and sanitation.
In the so-called inaccessible territories in Borno state, tens of thousands of IDPs were held in camps under armed guard by the Nigerian military and the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a state-sponsored civilian militia formed to fight Boko Haram. Most of the IDPs were not allowed to leave the camps and did not receive adequate food, water or medical care. Thousands of people have died in these camps due to severe malnutrition. In June, in a guarded camp in Bama, Borno tate, the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières reported over 1,200 bodies had been buried within the past year.
Both the CJTF and the army were accused of sexually exploiting women in the IDP camps in exchange for money or food, or for allowing them to leave the camps.
ARBITRARY ARRESTS AND DETENTIONS
The military arbitrarily arrested thousands of young men, women and children who fled to the safety of recaptured towns, including Banki and Bama, Borno state. These arrests were largely based on random profiling of men, especially young men, rather than on reasonable suspicion of having committed a recognizably criminal offence. In most cases, the arrests were made without adequate investigation. Other people were arbitrarily arrested as they attempted to flee from Boko Haram. Those detained by the military had no access to their families or lawyers and were not brought before a court. More than 1,500 detainees were released throughout the year.
The mass arrests by the military of people fleeing Boko Haram led to overcrowding in military detention facilities. At the military detention facility at Giwa barracks, Maiduguri, cells were overcrowded. Diseases, dehydration and starvation was rife. At least 240 detainees died during the year. Bodies were secretly buried in Maiduguri’s cemetery by the Borno state environmental protection agency staff. Among the dead were at least 29 children and babies, aged between newborn and five years.
At Giwa barracks, children under five were detained in three overcrowded and insanitary women’s cells, alongside at least 250 women 278 Amnesty International Report 2016/17 and teenage girls per cell. Some children were born in detention.
LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
There was continued lack of accountability for serious human rights violations committed by security officers. No independent and impartial investigations into crimes committed by the military had taken place despite the President’s repeated promises in May. Moreover, senior military officials alleged to have committed crimes under international law remained uninvestigated; Major General Ahmadu Mohammed was reinstated into the army in January. He was in command of operations when the military executed more than 640 detainees following a Boko Haram attack on the detention centre in Giwa barracks on 14 March 2014.
In its November preliminary report, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it will continue its analysis of any new allegations of crimes committed in Nigeria and its assessment of admissibility of the eight potential cases identified in 2015, in order to reach a decision on whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met.
In June, the government launched a programme to clean up the contamination caused by oil spills and restore the environment of the Ogoniland region in the Niger Delta. There were hundreds of spills during the year.