Amnesty International has revealed how children’s rights were violated by the Nigerian military battling the insurgents in the North-East.
The group, in its latest report, says between November 2019 and April 2020, about 230 people, including 119 children suffered from serious atrocities from the military and the insurgents.
The group said about 48 children were held in military detention for months or years, as well as 22 adults who had been detained with children
According to Amnesty International, the widespread unlawful detention and torture by Nigerian security forces have exasperated the suffering of a generation of kids and tens of thousands of people in north-east Nigeria.
“At least 10,000 victims – most of which are children – have died in military detainment, among the various thousands more arrested during a decade-long conflict with jihadist groups, in line with Amnesty International.
“Many left their homes to flee violence from the Boko Haram insurgents while others were wrongly arrested by civilian militia forces and soldiers on suspicion of being connected to or supporting the insurgency.” the report said.
In allegations strongly denied by the Nigerian army, victims suffered torture and years of detention for complimentary, trial or medical treatment, in “inhumane” conditions at three centres. One is that the Giwa barracks cell where rights groups have for years reported endemic human rights abuses.
Joanne Mariner, the acting director of crisis response at Amnesty International, summed up the “appalling” treatment of the victims.
“From mass, unlawful detention in inhumane conditions, to dispensing beatings and torture and allowing sex offence by adult inmates – it defies belief that children anywhere would be so grievously harmed by the very authorities charged with their protection,” she said. “The past decade of bitter conflict between Nigeria’s military and Boko Haram has been an assault on childhood itself in north-east Nigeria,” Mariner added.
“Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked schools and abducted large numbers of kids as soldiers or ‘wives’, among other atrocities.” Among the 230 people, Amnesty interviewed was 10-year-old Ibrahim, who said his family had fled their village after an attack by Boko Haram when he was five and were arrested several days later by the military. “We said we escaped from Boko Haram, but the military didn’t believe us,” he said. “They said that we were a part of Boko Haram. They hit us, children, with a rope of animal product and slapped our parents with the flat end of an extended knife. They beat us a day.
Another 14-year-old boy was also arrested after fleeing abduction by Boko Haram, then detained at Giwa barracks: “The conditions in Giwa are horrible. They may cause you to die. There’s no place to lie,” he said. “Up to now, nobody has told me why I used to be taken there, what I did, why I used to be in detention.” the 14-year old boy was quoted as saying in the report.
It is not True-Nig Army
Col Sagir Musa, the Director of Army Public Relations dismissed Amnesty’s report as a mere claim without substance. He said, “the Nigerian army has strongly debunked such malicious claim, and no group has convincingly refuted our position.”