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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More