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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid