October 27, 2013 (131027)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
The cycle of violence in northeastern Nigeria, confirm two new
Amnesty International reports this month, is fueled by
indiscriminate killings both by Boko Haram and by the Nigerian
military's Joint Task Force (JTF). More than 950 people are
reported to have died while in detention by the JTF in the first
six months of 2013, while Boko Haram has continued deadly attacks
on schoolchildren and teachers.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from those two Amnesty
International reports, detailing the recent record of violence. The
military response, according to numerous critics both inside
Nigeria and internationally, not only violates human rights but
leads to escalating rather than diminishing violence from Boko
Elsewhere in the country, while open conflict in the Niger Delta is
reduced from the period before the 2009 amnesty to rebels in the
region (http://tinyurl.com/k3eq7cz; http://allafrica.com/stories/201307051352.html), the structural
issues of environmental damage, poverty, and lack of accountable
law enforcement have not been addressed. In addition to the lack of
accountability of oil companies themselves and of government
revenues from oil, a complex set of actors, both in and out of
government, are reportedly responsible for theft of oil "on an
Nigerian crude oil is being stolen on an industrial scale.
Nigeria lost at least 100,000 barrels of oil per day,
around 5% of total output, in the first quarter of 2013 to
theft from its onshore and swamp operations alone. Some of
what is stolen is exported. Proceeds are laundered through
world financial centers and used to buy assets in and
Also see the recent article by A. Carl Levan, "Sectarian Rebellions
in Post-Transition Nigeria Compared," Journal of Intervention and
Statebuilding, May 2013 Can be downloaded freely at
which compares current violence in Northeastern Nigeria and Nigerian
coercive response perpetuating a cycle of violence to earlier
events in the Niger Delta.
Hundreds of people may have died in detention facilities run by the
Joint Task Force (JTF) in 2013. Amnesty International is calling on
the Nigerian authorities to conduct a thorough, impartial and
transparent investigation into the deaths, as a matter of urgency.
Amnesty International received credible information from a senior
officer in the Nigerian Army that over 950 people died in detention
facilities run by the Joint Task Force in the first six months of
2013 alone. A large proportion of these people are believed to have
died in Giwa military barracks in Maiduguri, Borno state and Sector
Alpha, commonly referred to as 'Guantanamo' and Presidential Lodge
(known as 'Guardroom') in Damaturu, Yobe state -facilities used by
the JTF to detain people suspected of being members of or
associated with Boko Haram.
According to former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International,
people died on an almost daily basis in Giwa barracks as well as
Sector Alpha detention centres, from suffocation or other injuries
due to overcrowding and starvation. Some suffered serious injuries
due to severe beating and eventually died in detention due to lack
of medical attention and treatment.
18 former detainees of Giwa barracks and Sector Alpha interviewed
by Amnesty International also said they had witnessed soldiers
taking detainees from their cells and heard them threatening to
shoot the detainees. The detainees were never returned to their
cells. In some cases, they may have been extra-judicially executed.
Another senior officer in the Nigerian Army in an interview with
Amnesty International earlier this year said "Hundreds have been
killed in detention either by shooting them or by suffocation.
People are crammed into one cell. There are times when people are
brought out on a daily basis and killed."
Amnesty International received information that on or around 19
April 2013, over 60 bodies were deposited by the military at the
Sani Abacha General Hospital mortuary in Damaturu, Yobe state. The
soldiers reportedly claimed that the bodies they were depositing
were Boko Haram members who had been killed in a shoot out.
According to a source close to the military interviewed by Amnesty
International, the men were detainees in Presidential Lodge
(Guardroom) detention centre in Damaturu, Yobe state, and had been
taken out of their cells and shot and killed by soldiers.
Bodies of detainees are regularly deposited by the military at
public mortuaries in Maiduguri and Damaturu. In April 2013, Amnesty
International delegates counted about 20 corpses lying on the
ground in the compound of the State Specialist Hospital mortuary in
Maiduguri. There were no visible gunshot wounds on the bodies. They
looked emaciated. Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that the
corpses were deposited at the mortuary by the JTF.
Several different sources told Amnesty International that bodies
were brought to the mortuary in Maiduguri by the JTF on an almost
daily basis. They remained in the mortuary until it was full. The
corpses were then taken away by the Borno State Environmental
Protection Agency (BOSEPA) and buried in the cemetery.
Information received by Amnesty International indicates that
information about deposited corpses is no longer being properly
recorded by the mortuaries in Maiduguri or Damaturu. In some cases
the mortuary staff are only allowed by the military to record the
number of corpses deposited rather than the names and other
personal details of the deceased. Post-mortem examinations are not
being carried out at the mortuary.
Lawyers and relatives of ex-detainees told Amnesty International
that in some cases families had no adequate information about their
detained relatives andwere often not even allowed by the military
to collect the bodies from the mortuary, which meant that the
corpses were buried by the respective state environmental
In a meeting with Amnesty International in July 2013, senior
officials at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja said that they have
records of all deaths in custody and investigate the circumstances
of those deaths. However, they were unable to provide additional
information on the investigation process.
No one interviewed by Amnesty International in Maiduguri and
Damaturu about the deaths of their relatives or friends said they
had been informed by the security forces or other government agency
that an investigation would be or had been carried out, or were
offered any apology. No suspected perpetrator is known to have been
arrested and brought to justice for the deaths of detainees in JTF
International standards require that any death in custody must be
investigated thoroughly and impartially. The death of anyone in
custody -- or otherwise at the hands of security forces -- merits an
inquiry whose goal should be to identify the body and determine the
cause and circumstances of death. This should include an adequate
autopsy, as set out in the UN Principles on the Effective
Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary
Executions (Principle 9). Dependants or relatives of persons
killed, or their legal representatives, are also entitled to an
independent process, including judicial process, and publication of
a report of the investigation. Whenever an individual dies in state
custody, the responsibility of the state is to be presumed; the
state must affirmatively provide evidence that it lacks
responsibility to avoid that inference.
Federal Coroner's Laws, which are in force in most Nigerian states,
oblige the state authorities to investigate and determine the
circumstances of all unnatural, sudden or violent deaths through an
open, public inquiry, and to investigate every death in custody.
However, inquests into deaths in custody are rare in Nigeria.
Despite the existence of Nigerian laws and international standards
requiring investigations of such deaths and prosecution of
suspected perpetrators where deaths have been unlawful, relatives
are often not informed about the death of their family members and
investigations are rarely carried out.
Without a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation and
appropriate prosecutions of suspected perpetrators, violations of
the rights of detainees in military custody will continue.
There is an urgent need for regular and independent monitoring of
JTF detention facilities, including the conditions, the treatment
of detainees and their access to lawyers, the courts and family
The National Human Rights Commission is mandated to investigate
human rights violations and visit places of detention. However,
research by Amnesty International indicates that NHRC monitors have
not been granted access to detention centres run by the military
such as Giwa barracks in Maiduguri and Sector Alpha and
Presidential Lodge in Damaturu, Borno and Yobe states.
The National Committee Against Torture is mandated to visit all
places of detention in Nigeria and to promptly and impartially
examine any allegation of torture. The Committee is yet to be given
an adequate budget for carrying out their mandate.
Amnesty International is calling for lawyers and human rights
monitors to be granted access to the detention centres in Giwa
barracks in Maiduguri and Sector Alpha and Presidential Lodge in
Damaturu and all other facilities run by the JTF in northern
The Nigerian authorities must, as a matter of urgency, conduct a
thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into allegations
of deaths in military custody in northern Nigeria and the findings
of such investigations must be made public. In cases of unlawful
killing, suspected perpetrators should be brought to justice in a
fair trial without recourse to the death penalty.
Amnesty International has previously documented the unlawful arrest
and detention of hundreds of people by the JTF in response to the
violence in some parts of northern Nigeria. Many have been detained
incommunicado for lengthy periods without charge or trial, without
being brought before any judicial authority, without access to
lawyers and without proper notification of family members. Hundreds
are detained without charge or trial at Giwa Barracks, 21 Armoured
Brigade, Maiduguri4 and in 2013 Amnesty International interviewed
several different sources who said that suspected Boko Haram
members are also being detained in Sector Alpha in Damaturu, in
harsh conditions that may amount to ill-treatment.
Several people interviewed by Amnesty International, who had been
detained by the JTF in Maiduguri, said that they were denied access
to medical care as well as vital medication while they were in
Amnesty International also recorded accounts of people being
arrested by the Joint Task Force (JTF) and then later found dead,
or subjected to enforced disappearance. Investigations have rarely
been carried out into allegations of violations by the security
forces; in the few cases where investigations have taken place, the
findings have not been made public.
To execute someone who is in state custody or otherwise under the
control of the authorities in the absence of a trial which fully
meets international standards of fairness is a form of
extrajudicial or summary execution, and constitutes a crime under
international law for which those responsible must be brought to
Under international law, every use of lethal force in law
enforcement operations, including those that are allegedly
accidental or in self-defence, must be subject to an independent
and impartial investigation. However, in practice investigations of
such killings in Nigeria are rarely carried out or if they are, the
findings are not made public.
While Nigeria's security forces have a responsibility and duty to
maintain public order and to pursue and bring to justice those
responsible for human rights abuses, such law enforcement functions
need to comply with Nigeria's national law and international human
Since 2012, Amnesty International has repeatedly raised its
concerns with the Nigeria government about the treatment of
detainees in military custody in northern Nigeria, the conditions
of detention, the lack of access to military detention facilities
by lawyers and human rights monitors and the flouting of the rule
of law. In September 2013, Amnesty International shared its
research findings with the Chief of Defence Staff and requested
information from the Defence Headquarters in Abuja. No response was
In a meeting in July 2013, senior officials at the Defence
Headquarters in Abuja informed Amnesty International that the Chief
of Defence Staff had set up a committee comprising representatives
from all the security agencies and the Ministry of Justice, to
investigate allegations of ill-treatment of detainees in JTF
custody in northern Nigeria.
Amnesty International requested for the terms of reference for this
special committee in order to direct complaints and share findings
with members of the committee. The request was refused.
The arrest and detention of people by the JTF, police and SSS in
Maiduguri, Damaturu, and other parts of the country is often
conducted outside the provisions of both Nigerian law and
international human rights law and standards.
"I saw the gunmen walking towards the school compound, two of them.
I was shouting at the kids to enter their classrooms. I think he
was trying to get some peanuts from the woman that sells outside
the gate. All the children were there. They parked their car a few
yards away and came straight to him and shot him at close range. We
all ran for cover when we heard the shot. It was scary. All the
children were screaming. Mallam Yusuf has been a teacher all his
life. Many young men and women have passed through him in this
state. I wonder why anybody would want to kill such a peaceful and
quiet person. He was just doing his job as a teacher." - A
colleague who witnessed the killing of Mallam Yusuf Mohammad, a 44-
year-old teacher in a primary school in Gwange III, who was shot
and killed by unknown gunmen outside his school in Maiduguri in May
2013. Nobody claimed responsibility for the killing.
Education is under attack in northern Nigeria. Since the beginnings
of 2012, according to Amnesty International's research, at least 70
teachers and over 1001 schoolchildren and students have been killed
or wounded. At least 50 schools have either been burned or
seriously damaged and more than 60 others have been forced to
close. Thousands of children have been forced out of schools across
communities in Yobe, Kaduna, Adamawa and Borno states. Many
teachers have been forced to flee for their safety to other states.
The highest number of attacks was in Borno state in the north-east.
According to the Nigeria Teachers' Union, more than 1,000 teachers
have been forced to flee from areas in the north since 2012.
The Islamist armed group commonly known as Boko Haram has claimed
responsibility for some of the attacks. As far as Amnesty
International is able to ascertain, no other group or individuals
have claimed responsibility for attacking schools in the north.
However, it is possible other groups or individuals have also
carried out attacks. In a video statement released in July 2013,
the purported leader of Boko Haram Abubakarr Shekau denied that
Boko Haram had carried out an attack on a school in Yobe state,
although he declared his support for the attack.
Attacks against schoolchildren, teachers and school buildings
demonstrate an absolute disregard for the right to life and the
right to education. Such attacks may also constitute crimes against
humanity as defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court.
Amnesty International urges Boko Haram and any affiliate armed
groups or individuals in northern Nigeria to immediately stop all
attacks on schools, teachers and pupils.
The Nigerian government is obliged, as part of its obligation under
Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and
Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to protect everybody's right to education
and to take measures that prevent third parties from interfering
with the enjoyment of the right.
Amnesty International urges the Nigerian authorities to provide
better protection for schools and ensure that attacks are properly
investigated and suspected perpetrators brought to justice in a
fair trial without recourse to the death penalty.
Since July 2009, the Islamist armed group Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnah
Ladda'awatih wal Jihad [People Committed to the Propagation of the
Prophet's Teachings and Jihad], commonly referred to as Boko Haram
[meaning "Western education is forbidden"], and individuals or
groups claiming to be members of Boko Haram, have claimed
responsibility for bombings and gun attacks across northern and
central Nigeria. The group has killed Muslim and Christian clerics
and worshippers, politicians, journalists and lawyers, and also
police personnel and soldiers. Boko Haram has claimed
responsibility for attacks on churches, prisons, police stations,
school buildings, newspaper offices and the UN.
Attacks on schools increased in 2012. They were carried out mainly
at night. Between 21 February and 1 March 2012, ten primary schools
were attacked in locations across Maiduguri. In most attacks, the
buildings were so badly damaged that they could no longer be used.
In March 2012, the then purported spokesman for Boko Haram, Abul
Qaqa, was reported in the Daily Trust newspaper on 6 March 2012 as
saying: "We are attacking the public schools at night because we
don't want to kill innocent pupils."
Since the beginning of 2013, attacks appear to have become more
brutal. They frequently happen when schools are occupied, and
according to reports received by Amnesty International, teachers
and pupils are now being directly targeted and killed.
In some attacks, teachers have been killed on school premises in
full view of children. In others, school buildings have been set on
fire and school property destroyed.
In May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of
emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, stating that many
parts of northern Borno were "under the direct control of Boko
Since June 2013, several schoolchildren have been killed and
injured in attacks on schools.
In July 2013, purported leader of Boko Haram Abubakarr Shekau, in a
video statement, said Boko Haram were attacking schools because
they are "un-Islamic". He also called for more teachers to be
killed. In it he said: "teachers who teach Western education, we
will kill them. We will kill them. We would burn down the schools,
if they are not Islamic schools. We don't touch small children. Our
religion does not allow that, but we'll burn down the schools."
The precise number of teachers and pupils killed and schools burnt
and destroyed is unknown. Official figures are often incomplete and
lower than those reported by the media, witnesses and civil society
organizations. News reports and interviews with parents, teachers
and civil society organizations suggest that up to 50 schools may
have been attacked, burned or destroyed in Borno state during 2013.
An official of the Borno state government was only able to provide
Amnesty International with information on attacks on schools within
the Borno state capital Maiduguri. He told the Amnesty
International that five government secondary schools and nine
private schools were razed to the ground by unknown gunmen between
January and April 2013.
According to parents, teachers and human rights defenders from
Borno state, many of whom were forced to flee to neighbouring
states such as Bauchi, Kaduna and Plateau, nearly all of the
schools in the Borno state towns of Bama, Baga, Jajeri, Umarari
Garnam, Mai Malari, Mungono and Gamboru were forced to close
between February 2012 and June 2013.
Another Borno state official reportedly stated that he did not know
the exact number of schools that have been attacked and burned or
destroyed across the state or the number of schools forced to close
as a result of the violence but that at least 15,000 children have
been forced out of schools in the state.7 According to an official
in the Federal Ministry of Education poor communications with
affected states make it difficult to obtain such figures.8
This briefing examines the attacks on schools and education
structures between February 2012 and September 2013 in northeastern
Nigeria, with a primary focus on Borno state. It draws on
Amnesty International research carried out between April 2012 and
September 2013, and highlights specific cases of attacks carried
out by suspected members of Boko Haram in Borno state between
January and September 2013.
Many of the victims, family members and witnesses who spoke to
Amnesty International, as well as some of the lawyers, human rights
defenders and government authorities asked not to be named in the
briefing for fear of reprisals. Consequently, names of several
witnesses have been changed or omitted for their own protection.
Amnesty International requested information from the Nigeria Police
Force and the Ministry of Justice about how many, if any, criminal
investigations, arrests and prosecutions had been carried out in
relation to attacks on students, teachers and schools in Borno and
Yobe states. No response was received.
The purpose of this briefing is to draw attention to the damaging
effects of the ongoing violence on education in northern Nigeria.
It calls on Boko Haram and other unknown gunmen to immediately
cease all attacks on schools and educational facilities; and on the
Nigerian authorities to take effective measures to ensure that the
right to life and the right to education are adequately respected,
protected and promoted in Nigeria.
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