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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs