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Nigeria Military to Address Accusations of Rights Abuses

FILE - Nigerian army chief Lt. Gen. KTJ Minimah, during a function in Lagos, Feb. 19, 2015.

Nigeria’s military is set to address accusations by Amnesty International that soldiers at the frontlines in the fight against Islamist militants Boko Haram committed human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.

Amnesty International has reported that since March 2011, Nigerian soldiers and militiamen have murdered, tortured and abused thousands of detainees. The report says an estimated 1,200 people were extrajudicially killed and about 7,000 young men and boys died while in military custody.

Amnesty also says military commanders either sanctioned the abuses or ignored the fact they were taking place. The rights group says it based its report on years of research and analysis that included leaked internal military documents and interviews with hundreds of people.

“The Nigerian military will soon address that issue of allegation by Amnesty International,” said Military spokesman, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman.

“The operation against terrorism in the country is on course and we are making tremendous progress… We are moving gradually even though the area [Sambisa Forest] is heavily mined, we are making progress in the sense that we are destroying most of the terrorist camps and we are narrowing [in] on them.”

New Command Center

President Muhammadu Buhari recently ordered the relocation of the command and control center from the capital, Abuja, to Maiduguri in Borno State, seen as the epicenter of the fight against Boko Haram.

“We have given ourselves a timeline [and] we are busy re-constructing and installing infrastructure as well as information and communications facilities, which we hope to complete within the next three weeks,” said Usman.

“Once it is done, this command and control center will control all the kinds of operations against Boko Haram terrorists. It will also provide all the necessary interface with all the stakeholders namely, the other services as well as the newly established multinational joint task force, which will come into operation next month,” he added.

Usman says the new command and control center will play a key role in the cooperation with other regional forces in the joint effort to combat Boko Haram. This, as neighboring Chad established a command center in the county’s bid to help with the fight against Boko Haram.

Usman also says the army will in the next three weeks complete infrastructure and technology installation in the new command center in Borno State as part of an effort to defeat Boko Haram militants.

Chadian Air Strikes

His comments came after the military sharply denied reports that the Chadian military has conducted air strikes against six terrorist camps in Nigeria.

In a press release, the Nigerian military said the places reportedly struck by the Chadian forces are “most likely” in Niger Republic, but not Nigeria.

“The Nigerian military will continue to cooperate with partners in the mission to exterminate or contain terrorists strictly in conformity with existing terms of the Concept of Operation at strategic, operational or tactical levels.

"It is however important that issues are accurately reported while avoiding misleading or unnecessary sensationalism from any quarter,” the press release read.

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