Nigeria’s newly sworn-in president Muhammadu Buhari has sworn to crush Boko Haram, the terror group that has had a stranglehold on the African nation, and the country’s military has made great strides in rooting out some elements of Boko Haram. But human rights organization Amnesty International claims that the country has gone too far and slaughtered thousands of civilians, a claim Nigeria’s military denies.
More than 8,000 people have died while being detained by Nigeria’s armed forces during the campaign against militant Islamist group Boko Haram, Amnesty International said on Wednesday, allegations that the military denied.
The group said many of the prisoners were executed and others died due to starvation, overcrowding, torture and denial of medical assistance.
Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency has killed thousands and left 1.5 million people displaced. The group wants to establish an Islamic caliphate in the northeast of Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and top oil exporter.
Muhammadu Buhari, the new president, has vowed to defeat Boko Haram and was holding talks on Wednesday with his counterparts in neighboring Niger and Chad on how best to tackle the insurgency.
“These acts, committed in the context of a non-international armed conflict, constitute war crimes,” said Amnesty, adding that senior military commanders should be investigated for possible crimes against humanity.
Nigeria’s military dismisses the allegations, referring to Amnesty International’s report as “blackmail.”
Major General Chris Olukolade said the charity was trying to “blackmail” the country’s armed forces and no allegations had been proved against individuals who the report identified.
“The Nigerian military … rejects the biased and concocted report provided by Amnesty International,” he said in a statement. “The Nigerian military does not encourage or condone abuse of human rights, neither will any proven case be left unpunished.”
Both the United States and the United Kingdom have urged Nigeria to investigate the claims.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Filipe Frazao