The Amnesty international (A I), on Monday, released a video footage it claimed showed soldiers lynching men said to be members of Boko Haram. The soldiers were aided by members of the government sponsored militia commonly known as Civilian JTF and the remains of the killed men were buried into a mass grave.
The body said it got the footage, which may be evidence of war crimes committed by the Nigerian military, from several sources during a trip to Borno State.
?This shocking new evidence is further proof of the appalling crimes being committed but abandoned by all sides in the conflict. Nigerians deserve better. What does it say when members of the military carry out such unspeakable acts and capture the images on film?? said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International?s Secretary General.
He further added that ?These are not the images we expect from a government which sees itself as having a leadership role in Africa. The ghastly images are backed up by the numerous testimonies we have gathered which suggest that extra-judicial executions are, in fact, regularly carried out by the Nigerian military and CJTF,?
According to Amnesty Interational, one of the footages allegedly taken on March 14, 2014, showed what appeared to be soldiers and members of the civilian JTF using a blade to slit the throat of several detainees and dumping their bodies into an open mass grave.
?The video shows 16 young men and boys seated in a line. One by one, they are called forward and told to lie down in front of the pit. Five of them are killed in this way; the fate of the remaining detainees is not shown on video, but eyewitness accounts confirmed that nine of them had their throats cut while the others were shot to death??.
?Additional footage featuring some of the same perpetrators, taken earlier that day at the same location, shows two detainees digging a grave under armed guard before the killing is carried out. One is told to lie down in front of the pit, where his legs and head are held by what seem to be CJTF members. The individual, who appears to be the commander of the group puts his right foot on the man?s side, raises his knife, kisses it and shouts ?Die hard Commando? and cuts the throat of the restrained young man. All other military and CJTF shout ?Yes oga [boss], kill him,? Mr. Shetty said.
Amnesty explained that eye witnesses confirmed that the videos were taken on March 14, 2014, the day Boko Haram group attacked Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri and released their members being held in detention. The organisation also said that about 600 other prisoners who were set free by the Boko Haram group were rounded up at various locations in the town by soldiers and members of Civilian JTF and subsequently killed extra-judicially.
?The detainees in the video were rearrested by the CJTF in Giddari Polo, near the Barracks, where various sources have confirmed that a number of other recaptured detainees were shot and killed by soldiers after being handed over to the military. The military then took the corpses and the detainees to a location outside Maiduguri, near Giddari, where the executions are reported to have been carried out and recorded on camera,? a statement by AI explained.
More evidence from the video suggests that the extra-judicial killing might have been done by soldiers from the Support Company of the 81 battalion of the Nigerian army.
?No buildings, roads or other infrastructure can be seen in the video but the noise of cars confirms that it is near a road. Several of the armed captors are wearing military uniforms, one of which has the words ?Borno State Operation Flush? emblazoned on the front. The ID number on one of the guns is also clearly identifiable (81BN/SP/407). According to military sources, the rifle belongs to the Support Company of the 81 Battalion and it has not been reported missing.?
Furthermore, AI claimed that it discovered evidence of mass killing in Bama, a town that has been in the midst of the insurgency. It claimed that after a ?screening? exercise in a market on July 23, 2013, 35 men suspected to be Boko Haram members were beaten with sticks and machetes before being taken to the nearby barrack.
?At that time, everyone was aware that these people had been killed, started running to go take a look. We found our relative near Bama Bridge. Plenty of people were with us. They already shot five of them in that location alone. There were five bodies including that of my relative. He had a bullet hole in his chest and no clothes, only trousers. We took the body and buried it. There is no death certificate; Bama hospital is not functioning. There is no place to complain; the town has restricted movement. Everybody left what happened to God,? a relative of one of the men told AI.
Reacting to the revelation, the Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, a Major General said: ?The Defence Headquarters considers these accusations too grievous to be associated with Nigerian troops, considering the doctrinal and operational contents of the training imparted to personnel on a continuous basis; emphasising the importance of respect for Human Rights and dignity of human person as well as observance of humanitarian laws. Rather, the scenes in that video clip clearly depict a pattern consistent with the atrocious operations of the terrorists,? ?Respect for the sanctity of life is always boldly stressed in our doctrinal teachings. Indeed, that level of barbarism and impunity has no place in the Nigerian military. It must thus be reiterated that the Nigerian military is a very well organized professional body of troops whose conducts in war and peace times are guided comprehensively by law,? he added.
Mr. Olukolade later in a press briefing pledged that the military would investigate the new video allegations.
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