Northern leaders visit Jonathan, accuse JTF of human rights abuses

Prominent leaders from the north, under the aegis of Northern Elders Forum, (NEF), met with President Goodluck Jonathan late Wednesday at the Aso Rock Villa where they condemned the activities of the Joint Task Force in states across the north, accusing them of gross human right abuses and escalating the insecurity situation in the region.

The spokesperson of the group, Yusuf Maitama Sule, said although northern leaders are appalled by the activities of the Boko Haram sect, they a “equally concerned about the behaviour of the security personnel, especially of soldiers deployed throughout the North to preserve peace and protect
lives and property.”

The most charitable interpretation of their mode of operation is unprofessionalism,” he said.

The NEF accused the JTF of summary executions, especially in Maiduguri, the hotbed of the crisis.

“In Maiduguri alone, available records indicate the figures of those that were killed by the JTF to be in the thousands, most of whom were first apprehended/arrested before they were extra judicially executed”.

Mr. Sule also accused the JTF of arson and destruction of people’s properties in the name of fighting Boko Haram.

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“In the past fortnight alone, the JTF has razed to the ground not fewer than fifty houses in the neighbourhood of Shehuri North, Korongoso and Abbaganaram Wards of Maiduguri. And lately, they similarly burnt many houses and executed a number of people, not far from the Governor’s
family house because an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was set off  nearby”.

Mr. Sule added that records at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, indicates that between the months of December and January 2011 alone, the JTF had executed over six hundred and thirty five people.

The elders said that “There have been many similar incidences in several parts of the North such as Kano, Damaturu, Gombe, Azare, Mubi etc”.

The group also spoke about, inciting remarks by persons close to the government, and “many other national issues which are capable of disrupting our national unity and development”.

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