Nigeria Human Rights Body Indicts Military On Baga Killings

File Photo: Boko Haram attack on Baga in May 2013... On January 3, 2015, Baga came under its heaviest Boko Haram attack ever. Survivors said bodies piled like flies.

The report says attention should be on the scale of force in Baga than the casualties.

Nigeria’s human rights body has rebuked the scale of military force used on the coastal town of Baga, Borno state, where between 30 and 200 people were killed in fighting between soldiers and Boko Haram militants in April. The report also criticizes the government for focusing more on the number of casualties than the legality and the scale of the force.

The National Human Rights Commission said in an interim report on what is now known as the Baga massacre, released Sunday, that while it was yet to announce its impression of the the numbers killed in the attack, and those responsible, the incident illustrates “serious concerns” about “proportionality of the use of force as well as humanitarian and human rights compliance in internal security operations.”

“Most of the allegations against the JTF(military’s Joint Task Force) clearly appear to raise questions of proportionality of the use of force and standards applicable to the conduct of the armed forces in internal security operations.”

The commission said it was “tragic” for the federal government to give more attention to the debate on the number of those killed than the legality of the killings, as though there exists a threshold for accepting extrajudicial killings.

“The details of Baga incident have been drowned out by competing claims about the casualty count with a focus on the numbers reported killed rather than on whether the nature of force that resulted in the their killing was proportionate or disproportionate taking account of all circumstances of the case, and, therefore, whether the force was ultimately lawful or unlawful,” the report said.

“Through this controversy, the impression has been created that certain thresholds of numbers of killing may be permissible so long as they are made to appear low enough. Government has not done enough to discourage the impression. The commission considers this tragic.”

The 40-page report comes only days after the Senate absolved the military of blame over the incident which drew widespread condemnation and placed Nigeria’s human rights record on the global spotlight.

The early April attack reportedly occurred after insurgents shot and killed a soldier at a local bar drawing a forceful response from a military unit based in the area.

Residents of the small town on the Lake Chad coastline said between 185 and 200 people were killed, while between 2,000and 4,000 homes were destroyed in the crossfire. Those figures were supported by the Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, and the senator representing the district, Maina Lawan.

International rights organization, Human Rights Watch, also claimed satellite images showed that 2,275 homes destroyed.

The military denounced the figures as “grossly exaggerated” saying only 37 people died amongst them, one civilian.

The senate report, released on Wednesday, supported those claims. The committees on defence and army, internal security and police, which investigated the case, said they found only nine new graves and 115 burnt homes.

The Nigerian Human Rights Commission said while the casualty count is important to its investigation, its focus is on the lawfulness of the force applied and responsibility for it, taking account of all the circumstances of the case.

It said in those concerns must be addressed by the federal government, security forces and institutions of accountability in the search for durable solutions to the crisis in the northeast region.

Illegal Detentions, torture and summary executions

The report said while there were credible allegations that Boko Haram fighters are involved in killings, rape, forced abduction, and forced marriage of women and attacks on schools, teachers, churches and other places of worship, the military’s Joint Task Force, was also accused of extrajudicial executions, torture, indeterminate detention, indiscriminate disposal of remains of killed insurgents.

“The allegations about detention practice are extensive. Detainees are allegedly held in un-gazetted places of detention, with no or inadequate documentation and outside the safeguards provided for under applicable laws, including the Constitution of Nigeria and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. They are not allowed access to family, counsel or medical personnel,” the commission said.

Forced displacement

The commission also identifies the forced displacement of entire community as a consequence of the security situation and the deployment of troops to the north-east.

It said most of those displaced from their home have refused to use the camp provided by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for fear that they may be easy targets by security forces and the insurgents.

“Many of them are not encamped, some of them fear that registering with the camps maintained by the NEMA could expose them to the attentions of the security agencies or of JTF. They are also reported to be in fear for safety of camps from possible JALISWAJ(Boko Haram) attacks. We have been unable to verify these fears but call attention to the fact that they exist.”

Worsening human development statistics

The report says the security situation in the region has worsened the already dire human development statistics in the region as indices like maternal mortality and poverty have escalated.

“Compounding these issues, the farming communities of Borno State in particular have lost the 2013 planting season, mostly attributable to fear of JALISWAJ. The consequences of this are far reaching. The immediate result is the likelihood of a food security and nutritional crises in Borno and surrounding States that are dependent on the agricultural output from its Lake Chad Basin.”


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  • Eno

    Wow. You mean this kind of report is from a government body? Una try oh. Respect!!!!

    • Bello

      This is a good report. No matter what, government must be held accountable for security of lives and property. Well done NHRC.

  • Garden-City Boy

    There is nothing credible about this lousy “human right’” report.If anything, it bears all the hallmarks of Arab-bankrolled intrusion. It is a major thrust in the islamist expansionist agenda in West Africa and the Sahel. Their vicious propaganda against the administration is nothing new and we are all clearly aware that islam permits islamists to lie about everything to gain advantage over the enemy. Take the example of the purported “handshake” the President was supposed to have had with a Hezbolla boss. In awusa thinking, the inference is that the arms deal has President Jonathan’s blessing, and that government should drop the charges against Lebanese Hezbollah criminals. That is the logic pattern and warped nature of awusa thought process.
    Now, a so-called “Human Rights Commission” suddenly pops up. Else, it must have been on vacation all the while, during ODI, and ZAKI BIAM. It went deaf, dumb and blind during CHIEF MKO ABIOLA’s imprisonment and callous murder. Perhaps his wife had committed suicide as far as this Arab mouthpiece is concerned. KEN SARO-WIWA was lynched by awusa supremacists in a classic extra-judicial murder; our “Human Rights Commission” chose to be blind-sided.
    It is curious that Nigeria’s “Human Rights Commission” chose to be indifferent to egregious
    violations committed by a barbaric people with raw, naked impunity. Neither the brutal massacre of Southerners following Buhari’s loss in the 2011 presidential elections, nor the targeted slaughter of Christians by the Islamic Boko Haram killing machine could catch the attention of this so-called “Human Rights Commission”. The human barbeque in Plateau and Benue States, courtesy of Fulani islamists are the regular run of the mill to our “HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION”. Baga is the real deal, the embedded terroristssacred. It is, perhaps, another
    unreasonable KAFIR expectation that the concerns of victims and survivors of barbaric awusa brutality be addressed. After all 1966 Igbo genocide happened and nothing happened. As monumental an evil as it is, the Nigerian state has accepted genocide as both normal and necessary part of our national ethos.
    The question remains whether or not, according to Paul Unongo, the Nigerian state has drained enough Southern blood ‘to water’ this seed of Nigeria’s unity. Or, why awusas needed that many Igbo people (50,000) for blood in this ‘seed watering’ ritual. Should it come from 1 million Igbos, may be? Two…or just from only 10 million, say?
    Rather than leave it to dangerous speculations, Paul Unong should come clear with the working figures, as an AREWA bigwig. It becomes an absolute outrage when victims get the ANIMAL RIGHT treatment, while assailant awusa islamists become the holy cows that get full human rights protection of the Nigerian state.
    The FG may well go ahead to fully grant all the demands of these islamic monsters. After all, the
    brutes already got an “unconditional AMNESTY, without anybody thinking twice”. To deny any one of the islamists’ demands or the failure to satisfy their savage whims and caprices is to risk getting on the radar screen of the so-called “Human Rights Commission”, manipulated from somewhere in the Arabian Peninsula support base by the OIC.
    We may then suggest a total review of the rules of engagement of the soldiers of the JTF to the administration. The troops must be immediately disarmed, if not stripped totally naked, and their weapons turned over to the barbaric mullahs. Then, their hands must be tied behind their backs before engaging islamic terrorists in future combats, since criminals and murderers became sacred cows and their victims villains.
    More importantly, we must agree that our soldiers broke out of woodwork and don’t belong to families. When they do, their families don’t really miss them. Members of our military hardly deserve the life they live; theyare only good to be served as cannon fodder and objects of
    target practice for terrorists. That way, the FG can be saved further embarrassment from the so-called “Human Rights Commission” manipulated from the Arab world by OIC.
    In the mean time, the Nigerian State must seriously consider the immediate inauguration of a parallel ANIMAL RIGHTS COMMISSION, whose duty will be to oversee the perpetuation of the the state circus show, the ongoing awusa impunity and the systematic extermination of Southerners and the nation’s Christian community.

    • maduka

      Wow! When did Nigeria become so polarized among religious and ethnic lines so much that people who are supposed to be educated like the person hiding behind the Garden-city boy would utter such statements like this about a report that should have given our security experts an insight to rethink the rules of engagement in moments of crisis. This is as it insults our common humanity as a people. We need to fix Nigeria and if we must be blind to ethnicity or religion. A govt institution has made a report, indicting its own government and somebody is here making noise about it. This is arrant nonsense.

      • Garden-City Boy

        Thanks to Maduka for looking in. I do not hide behind anything. The Garden-City Boy pulls no punches. In case he is unaware, it is time for real hard ball. The time for hypocrisy to avoid feather ruffling is over. Reading through Maduka’s “wow’, I can see a big, fat savannah ostrich with the little head buried in the sand. The guy is not alone; he has thousands and one fellow ostriches, all with their little heads buried under the sand. They delude themselves in the belief that if the scourge is not mentioned by name it seizes to exist. The closest such fellows do is nibble around the edges and carefully avoid the core of the malaise -awusa barbaric impunity. My guess is that Maduka is an Igbo man. He is likely to bet on my being Igbo which I would not encourage. He will lose in the gamble.
        Just as most Igbo hypocrites, Maduka falls into one or more of the following categories:
        a) The win-the-war ignoramuses without the foggiest idea what their kinsmen were put through by barbaric awusa people. This group was littered either shortly before the Igbo pogrom or after it. This anything-goes, expo-70 segment
        suffers the grave misfortune of missing out on the exposure to core Igbo values. Intellectual inertia cripples their drive to research into and understand the Igbo saga, making the dire situation rather pathetic.
        b) The draft dodging oafs who, we are told, were gutless able-bodied Igbo
        youths who bottled up all the testosterone they could make. These oafs denied
        their community their much needed contribution to the Biafra war efforts. A
        good many in the segment were not impacted by awusa barbarism of the 1966
        pogrom or by the war itself. They have no idea how it hurts to be brutalized by
        awusa ass-wipes.
        c) Another group is the greedy Igbo aristocrats bursting in the seams with cash
        returns from fraudulent government contracts, scams and real estate investments across the North. They worry about losses in the event of the impending break-up. This group pretends to be more patriotic to the unity of one-Nigeria than the rest of the Igbos put together. Patriotism is to real estate across the north, not to the Nigerian state. This renegade group is the corrupt cult of money-bags who benefit from a skewed status quo that denies justice to Igbo people, who have suffered state marginalization and dehumanization. Members of this group surround themselves with private armies of armed, buff thugs. These demigods sponsor the spate of pervading criminal activities such as murder and kidnapping of rivals and political foes, as well as armed robbery, from their dens. They are the law unto themselves, creating situations of shock and awe to terrorize and intimidate peace-loving communities, and manipulate the political landscape.
        Our man, Mr. Maduka, understands all that. He certainly belongs to one or more of the feared, but secretly despised groups. He underscores his hypocrisy with the dumb question: “When did Nigeria become so polarized among religious and ethnic lines?”. Apparently, he lives in denial of the Igbo genocide of 1966, when over 50, 000 innocent citizens were targeted and selectively massacred with brutal impunity and fury. Still with us today is the systematic slaughter of Southerners and Christians across the North by the same awusas. But Maduka would rather pretend to himself that the barbaric murderers are no longer the awusa islamists, or that the victims are not innocent Southerners and Christians.
        Are those the realities to shy away from, and we bury our heads in the sand to live in the false world of the Madukas, who still wonder how or why Nigeria got
        ethnically and religiously polarized? Such hypocrites are the real problem of the Igbo people. The good news is that era is on the wane. Maduka’s argument would be compelling had he but pointed to one thing as ethnically or religiously polarizing as the brutalization and murder of targeted citizens of specific tribal extraction and religious persuasion. The Madukas of this world can afford to keep their heads buried under the sand for as long as the humiliation of their hapless kinsmen puts money the pockets of Igbo Judases. The guy man might be needing urgent help.

        • Maduka

          so, to solve the problem and heal your wounds Mr. Garden City; all the Hausa’s in Nigeria should be exterminated so that the Igbo man would find enough space to live happily, right? Those who understand the consequences of wars and its aftermath would rather beat the drums of peace than sharpen their arrows for the battle. It is not called cowardice, it is common wisdom.

          • Garden-City Boy

            The issue here is that you keep missing the point. But you were smart to
            raise the issue of peace, especially the peace after a war. Take the WWll as an example and how the peace was achieved and consolidated after it ended. You are aware of the post-war trials of ex-Nazis and the fate of those involved in the murder of 6million Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Only in 2011, John Demjanjuk was found guilty for his role as a guard at a Nazi death camp in World War II, more than 60 years after. Coming nearer home, you sure know about Charles Taylor’s case. Taylor did not even go close to 1/10th what awusa leaders did to Igbo people to achieve the “peace” that now prevails.
            The masterminds and perpetrators of the Nigerian genocide have been decorated with all kinds of social anointing and their crime glamorized. They are called “patriots” who saved us from disintegration and preserved our “unity”. You may argue that post-WWll justice process
            did not stem the tide of human impunity.
            50,000 defenseless Igbos are murdered in cold blood, in one fell swoop, in absolutely peace time. We were not even fighting any war at the time. We all don’t know why they were slaughtered, or do we? If we should conservatively assume that it took 5 awusas to lynch each of those unfortunate victims, just only 5, we are looking at 250,000 awusa
            murderers, at the least. Can anyone explain how 250,000 barbaric awusa murderers simply melted into thin air, like dew drops in the morning sun. Even as we make this exchange, not ONE awusa man is held accountable for the murder of 50,000 Igbos, nearly 50 years after. Not even one!
            You may wish to preach a brand of peace premised on a philosophical fantasy, or even characterize any call for justice “cowardice”. Clearly, a pharisaic demeanor is palpable in your response; it fits you into one or even a cocktail of the groupings defined in my earlier posting. Any thinking that your type of ephemeral peace can hold without JUSTICE is both baseless and delusional. The position you take on peace in Nigeria is that of the ostrich; it is based on the “pretend it does not exist and it goes away” paradigm.
            But here we are today, nearly 50 years after the Igbo genocide. It is the same very cycle upon cycle of barbaric butchery by the very same awusa people, suggesting that your type of position fuels the addiction to
            maniacal impunity in these people. It does not make it go away. The recent unconditional AMNESTY granted to awusa terrorists is a case in point. The ass-cracks, seeing the encouraging signal, ramped up the slaughter. Amnesty meant to them the usual guarantee that their crime would be written off, and no awusa man will ever be held accountable. On the other hand, if your prescription for peace is the total extermination of awusa, please, be my guest. At least you do agree that awusa is the big gorilla in the room. You may want to beat your peace drum from Calabar to Sokoto, then back from Maiduguri to Lagos and to everywhere else in between. Without justice, your drumming is simply some noise pollution that reminds everybody of the absence of justice in the Nigerian State. You will be unable to drum up the
            peace, no matter how hard you drum. That I can assure you.

  • Tajudeen

    Shuo, Garden City Boy don vex, no be small. Pele oh! He no even know say na Christian dem dey head Human Rights Commission. Bem Angwe, Tiv Professor from near Zaki Biam na him be Executive Secretary. Anselm Odinkalu, Catholic from Imo State, na Chairman. Wetin concern Arab for dis one now, ehn?

  • Peter2000

    “The report also criticizes the government for focusing more on the number of casualties than the legality and the scale of the force”.

    Look at this useless human wrongers crackpots. They want to argue legalism with terrorist??? There is only one rule of engagement kill this bagas.

  • Ninja

    “Kill the Bagas”, ehn? Exactly what they did in Baga. 9ja, finecountry!!

  • Chukkie

    This is a great report. Thought the human rights commission was a lame luck but i thought wrong after all. Well, let’s hope that GEJ would act on it with his security agencies.

  • bayo

    Two wrongs can’t make a right. If Terrorists are killing the citizen’s, govt should not also be caught killing citizens illegally as well. This is a good report and i hope somebody does something similar in other sectors of our economy and nationhood. Especially in the oil and gas sector.

  • fred

    Hahahahaah! i don talk am before. why gofment go give mad person like chidi human rights commission work to do. Dem no sabi say that guy no sabi lie? Oh well, me i still dey laugh oh. LOL

  • Nandi

    How do we get a copy of this report? Premium Times, do you have this report? Can you make it available on your website or somewhere from where we can get it?

    • Es3

      Nandi,
      If you get the copy of that report through Premium Times I would strongly advise that you get a second copy of the same report from a neutral source?!!!
      The reason being that the report equally indicted Boko Haram as well which Premium Times (in their regular self of biased and poison-laced reportage) failed to even make mention of here???!
      For your sake and the sake of getting the true information contained therein from an un-doctored copy, get a second copy from a neutral source!

  • Iyke

    I salute the integrity and credibility of the National Human Rights Commission under Prof. Odinkalu. This report is seamless! Nothing promotes growth and development as accountability and transparency.