Account for missing Boko Haram victims, families urge FG

Relations and speakers at an Amnesty International Dialogue in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Thursday, urged the Federal Government and the military to account for the thousands of persons missing or arrested as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency over the last 13 years in the North-East.

Over the last 13 years, especially between 2012 and 2017, the military during the war against the insurgents allegedly made “indiscriminate” and “rampant” arrests of suspected insurgents across communities in the affected states.

While the majority of those arrested were allegedly detained at Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri, thousands were allegedly detained at facilities in Lagos, Kainji in Niger State, and other locations across the country.

Recall that the insurgents, sometimes over the peak of the insurgency years, reportedly raided the Giwa Barracks and Bauchi Prisons to set free their detained fellows there.

They complained variously of missing fathers, husbands, wives, children, and siblings as a result of alleged rampant arrests by the military over the last 13 years.

The relations and other speakers were attending a dialogue on missing and forcibly arrested persons during the Boko Haram insurgency as part of the activities marking the International Day of Missing Persons slated for August 30.

Although the government and the military would not release any record of such persons, the global human rights watchdog and a Maiduguri-based NGO, Allamin Foundation for Peace, agreed on “over 23,000,” while the International Committee for the Red Cross fixed their number at 20,000.

Out of the “over 23,000” arrested by the military over Boko Haram, as agreed on by Amnesty International and Allamin, 1886 have been released, according to the Executive Director of the Foundation, Hamsatu Allamin.

“Our records show that over 23,000 persons were either missing or arrested by the Nigerian military over the insurgency over the last 13 years, but we believe the number is much higher,” Isa Sanusi, Amnesty International Country Director, said in his remarks.

“Many of our people have been missing after being arrested by the military for the last nine years,” Mallam Musa Adam, representing the Boboshe community in Dikwa LGA, Borno State, complained.

“One of them was one of our elders, a businessman and politician (name not mentioned for security reasons) who was so generous that he was supporting most families,” Adam recalled, as he appealed to the government to tell the community the whereabouts and situation of the arrested persons.

Babagana Ibrahim, a teacher at Konduga LGA, alleged that his two brothers, Mohammed Ibrahim and his namesake, Babagana Ibrahim, were arrested by the troops at Bama on November 12, 2012.

“We want the government to tell us if they are dead or still alive,” he appealed.

“If repentant insurgents can be forgiven and even reintegrated into their communities, why not release those missing and forcibly disappearing as a result of being arrested for the insurgency?” the Chairman of the Network of CSOs in the North-East and Lake Chad, Ambassador Ahmed Shehu, queried.

He called on governors of the states affected by the insurgency in the North-East to set up investigative panels at their respective state levels on missing and forcibly disappeared persons to determine their whereabouts and state of living.

“The Nigerian government has problems with its criminal justice and human rights systems,” Sanusi posited, calling on the government to prosecute, before the court of law, those detained for the insurgency according to international law.

“There will never be genuine peace; there will never be a genuine end to the (Boko Haram) conflict until all missing and forcibly disappeared persons are thoroughly accounted for by the government,” Sanusi warned.

“Nigerian authorities should establish a mechanism by which all such missing or forcibly disappearing persons can be traced,” he demanded.

Efforts to reach the Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Tukur Gusau, were unsuccessful as calls to his line were not answered, while a response to a text message sent to his telephone on the matter had yet to be replied to as of the time of filing this report.

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