By Onozure Dania
A human right group, Human Right Watch has said that since the commencement of Boko Haram insurgence in 2009, no fewer than 2,800 Nigerians have lost their lives to the menace.
The group noted that in the first nine months of 2012 alone, more than 815 people died in some 275 suspected attacks by the group which, according to them, is more than the deaths recorded in the whole of 2010 and 2011 combined.
The group said that widespread poverty, corruption, police abuse and long standing impunity for a range of crimes have provided a fertile ground for violence and militancy in Nigeria.
The African Director of Human Right Watch, Mr. Daniel Bekele has therefore called on the Nigerian government to swiftly bring to justice Boko Haram members and security agents who have committed these heinous crimes.
Bekele disclosed this at the launch of a report in Lagos on the crime committed by the anti-western education group on humanity in the country.
He said in the 98-page report, “Spiralling Violence: Boko Haram Attacks and Security Force Abuses in Nigeria,” indicted government security forces who it claimed engaged in numerous abuses, including extra judicial killings.
The report also noted atrocities for which Boko Haram has claimed responsibility just as it explores the role of Nigeria’s security forces, whose alleged abuses contravene interna-tional human rights law and might also constitute crimes against humanity.
“The unlawful killing by both Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces only grows worse; both sides need to halt this downward spiral,” he said.
The Human Right Watch report, said the group is based on field research conducted in the country between July 2010 and July 2012, and the continuous monitoring of media reports of Boko Haram attacks and statements since 2009.
It said that Human Rights Watch researchers interviewed 135 people including 91 witnesses and victims of Boko Haram violence on security forces abuses, as well as lawyers, civil society leaders, government officials, and senior military and police personnel.
It recalled that security personnel in 2009 arrested and summarily executed the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, along with at least several dozen of his followers in the northern city of Maiduguri adding; “when the group re-emerged in 2010 under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau, Yusuf’s former deputy, it vowed to avenge the killings of its members”.
It said that suspected Boko Haram members have since attacked more than 60 police stations in at least, 10 northern and central states and bombed the police headquarters in Abuja.
The group, quoting media reports in Nigeria, said that at least, 211 police officers have been killed in these attacks.
The African Director of Human Right Watch urged Nigerian government to take urgent measures to address the human rights abuses that have helped fuel the violent militancy in the country.
“Nigeria’s government has a responsibility to protect it’s citizens from violence but also to respect international human rights law. Instead of abusive tactics that only add to the toll, the authorities should prosecute without delay those responsible for such serious crimes,” he said.