The tactics Nigeria's security forces are using to fight Boko Haram are just making the insurgency worse. That is what Amnesty International says in a report released on Thursday.
The report titled Nigeria: Trapped in the Cycle of Violence accuses the security forces of summary executions, torture and detention without trial. It also documents Boko Haram's atrocities, including its systematic targeting of civilians.
Amnesty International's investigation highlights instances where government forces have violated human rights with "impunity in the name of fighting terror". Abuses include illegal executions and forced disappearances.
"I am living here on the ground, I am living here in fear, I am living here in dread. So the basic tenor of the citizenry is that the military or the security forces are not doing enough …. What the people want is an end to bombing …. There is nothing saying that I will not have a bomb placed under my car right now …. Right now we are having to confront terrorism – a new thing to Nigerians – using the old methods …. The old methods have been military regime methods."
- Tony Uranta, the executive secretary of the National Summit Group
The group says that only a few of the hundreds of people security forces have detained have ever been formally charged. It also says the violence has created a climate of fear in Nigeria.
The report warns that the brutal tactics employed by the security forces could help build support for Boko Haram beyond its extremist core. And it makes a series of recommendations to upgrade systems and improve training to help prevent future abuses.
Lt Col. Sagir Musa, the spokesman for the Joint Military Taskforce in north-eastern Nigeria, has said the accusations are false.
But Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's secretary-general, told a group of journalists in Abuja that you cannot protect people by abusing human rights or promote security by creating insecurity.
"Overall the report feels that the security forces are consistently operating outside the law," he said. "And our experience internationally is that this is not the way to counter terror. No crimes committed by Boko Haram and no human rights violations committed by Boko Haram can justify human rights violations by security forces."
So where is the rule of law in Nigeria?
Joining Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, to discuss this are guests: Tony Uranta, the executive secretary of the National Summit Group, an organisation promoting a national dialogue in Nigeria; Hakeem Yusuf, a senior lecturer at the School of Law at the University of Strathclyde; and Paul Lubeck, the associate director of the African Studies Programme at the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University.
ABOUT BOKO HARAM:
- The radical armed group based in Nigeria says it wants to wipe out any Western influence in the north of the country and create an Islamic state there
- Recently, Boko Haram has bombed churches and other buildings but its trademark tactic is to use gunmen on motorbikes to kill police, politicians and anyone who criticises them