Left Menu
Development News Edition

'We Saw our houses go into flames': Nigeria's military accused of burning villages

Devdiscourse News Desk | Abuja | Updated: 14-02-2020 19:58 IST | Created: 14-02-2020 19:56 IST
'We Saw our houses go into flames': Nigeria's military accused of burning villages
Representative Picture. Image Credit: Flickr

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Amnesty International has alleged that Nigeria's military has burned down villages in the fight against Islamist insurgents.
  • Nigeria's military has frequently been accused of human rights abuses which had sparked investigations by ICC.

Nigeria's military burned down villages and forcibly displaced hundreds of people in its fight against Islamist insurgents in the country's northeast, rights group Amnesty International alleged on Friday. Nigeria's military, which has frequently been accused of human rights abuses in its decade-long fight against Boko Haram and more recently Islamic State's West African branch, said in a statement that Amnesty's report had been falsified.

Three residents interviewed by Reuters confirmed Amnesty's findings.

Previous allegations have sparked investigations by the International Criminal Court in the Hague and hampered Nigeria's ability to purchase arms, a source of frustration for its military's leaders. However, convictions of soldiers have been rare and the military has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

In the latest allegations, Amnesty said Nigerian soldiers razed three villages after forcing hundreds of men and women to leave their homes in the northeastern state of Borno in January. The human rights group said it interviewed 12 victims and reviewed satellite images that showed several large fires in the area and almost every structure razed.

Residents described soldiers going house to house and rounding people up, then making them walk to a main road and board trucks, it said. "We saw our houses go into flames," a woman of around 70 told Amnesty. "We all started crying."

The trucks took more than 400 people to a camp for people displaced by the conflict in Maiduguri, the main city in the region. "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," said Osai Ojigho, director for Amnesty International Nigeria, in Friday's statement detailing the group's investigation.

Soldiers also detained six men, beating some of them, and held them for almost a month before releasing them without charge on Jan. 30, Amnesty said. It cited Nigerian Army statements from the time that said six Boko Haram suspects had been captured and hundreds of captives freed from the militants.

"They say they saved us from Boko Haram, but it's a lie," said one man aged roughly 65, according to Amnesty. "Boko Haram isn't coming to our village."

A military spokesman denied the allegations in a statement on Friday, saying Amnesty had launched "a campaign of calumny targeting the Nigerian military" and accused the group of supporting the insurgents, who it blamed for burning villages.

Civilians were evacuated from the line of fire during combat, the spokesman said. Three residents from two of the affected villages, now living in Maiduguri, described to Reuters the same events as in the rights group's report.

"The soldiers called us Boko Haram and set our houses ablaze, before evacuating all of us," one of the residents said.

Amnesty's report was published as the military struggles to contain the insurgencies, particularly Islamic State. Last July, troops began to withdraw to larger garrisons, dubbed "super camps", from smaller bases that were frequently overrun with heavy loss of lives.

That has left the military on the defensive and the insurgents able to roam across large swathes of territory and carry out attacks, often on civilians, with few repercussions.

(With inputs from agencies.)

Download The Devdiscourse News App for Latest News.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Aviation post-COVID 19: Hard time ahead of getting people back on planes

The sweeping travel restrictions have largely brought international travel to a halt and domestic travel is also facing a huge number of cancellations as billions of people are ordered to stay inside their homes as part of strict lock-downs...

All party meeting - Blocking dialogue not culture of Bengal, Mamata needs to speak up

If that happens, history will record it as the dark age of Bengal....

Videos

Latest News

Trump takes aim at agency watchdogs: 'Give me the name'

President Donald Trump is moving aggressively to challenge the authority and independence of agency watchdogs overseeing his administration, including removing the inspector general tasked with overseeing the 2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue...

Rivera focused on 'impact' player with No. 2 pick

Washington coach Ron Rivera wouldnt tip his hand when it comes to the teams plans for the No. 2 overall pick in this months NFL draft, other than to say the Redskins need an immediate impact player. The Redskins are widely expected to selec...

Nearly half of global coal plants will be unprofitable this year -Carbon Tracker

China and other countries could be planning to build more coal plants to stimulate their economies in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic but nearly half of global coal plants will run at a loss this year, research showed on Wednesda...

Few UK firms successful in getting government funds -BCC survey

Only a small fraction of British companies have successfully accessed financial help from the government to withstand the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, while scores more have failed so far, a survey showed on Wednesday. Th...

Give Feedback