News / Africa

    Rights Group Accuses Nigerian Military of 'Cover-Up'

    Military 'Cover-up' in Nigeria Violence says HRWi
    X
    May 09, 2013 11:49 AM
    Human Rights Watch says Nigeria's military is covering up attacks on civilians during its fight against Islamic militants in the north. VOA's State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports that Nigeria's government says it is investigating the violence.
    Human Rights Watch says Nigeria's military is covering up attacks on civilians during its fight against Islamic militants in the north.

    The rights group said satellite images following last month's violence in the northern Nigerian town of Baga show more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. Nigeria's military says only several dozen homes were burned during an attack by the militant group Boko Haram. 

    Deputy Washington Director Sarah Margon has doubts.

    "It doesn't look like it was done with rocket-propelled grenades, which is what Boko Haram tends to use," she said. "But instead going house-to-house with fire."

    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered an investigation into the violence. 

    Margon said the discrepancies suggest there is something to hide.

    "There's been very different information, and it would seem to us that something is being covered up in fact," Margon stated.

    State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said U.S. officials are closely studying the Human Rights Watch findings.

    "President Jonathan has called for an investigation, including ascertaining that security forces, namely the Joint Border Control Forces in the area, had adhered to the rules of engagement," he explained. "So we urge a full investigation into these attacks, and that those responsible, both military and others, be held to account."

    Boko Haram appears to be stepping up its attacks with more lethal weapons.

    "The increasing sophistication of arms, of tactics I think is extremely worrying," said Jennifer Cooke, the director of Center for Strategic and International Studies Africa. "When you're confronted by people with rocket-propelled grenades you're going to need a strong military response.  The great danger is that in doing so the Nigerian security forces are alienating the communities in which Boko Haram is embedded and making it almost impossible to get cooperation and intelligence from those communities," she added.

    Margon said that creates a cycle of violence in which no one is held to account and authorities too easily shift blame.

    "We have yet to see in this case of Baga how far up the chain any indiscriminate attacks may go. But certainly a full and complete and independent investigation is going to be very important to showing that the military is going to be held to account," she stated.

    While encouraging Nigeria to address economic inequalities in the north, the Obama administration is backing the fight against Boko Haram, said Secretary of State John Kerry. "They are facing some tough violence in the northern part of the country, which we condemn and we join with them in helping to fight against extremism," said Kerry.

    Cooke said there is only so much Washington can do. "We have to admit the limits of our influence in a place like Nigeria. There's a huge political game going on with Nigeria," she noted. "Goodluck Jonathan is looking to his next election."

    The suggestion that Boko Haram's rebellion is rooted in underdevelopment is not a popular message for politicians, who worry that responding with greater social spending could encourage insurrection in other poor areas of the country.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora