Amnesty International – an international human rights advocacy organization, has been invited to open a branch office in Abuja, from where it might start to investigate claims of army abuse on civilians in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram insurgents in the north-eastern region of Nigeria.
During the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, the international advocacy group accused the army of flagrant abuses as they continued to battle Islamic insurgents, but the government debunked most of these accusations and said Amnesty International was only exaggerating things.
In January this year, the advocacy group published a report citing claims that the Nigerian military killed over 2,000 people in Baga, Maiduguri, while raiding the insurgents, but Jonathan’s government disagreed with Amnesty International’s Baga numbers as “exaggerated” and a fact-checking report by AfricaCheck.org said there was no provable evidence that such numbers of people were killed.
Amnesty’s detailed report (pdf), released in March, painted a grim picture stating that as many as 7,000 civilians have died in military detention.
Then in June, the advocacy group released another report stating the Nigerian army were flouting human rights and abusing local residents in the battle region, but the Jonathan administration denied knowledge of any such reports.
Now, the President Buhari administration has welcomed Amnesty International to open an office in the country; and this might give the watchdog group the leverage to closely investigate the claims of human rights abuses they have against the army or any other groups.
Apart from human rights abuse investigations, Amnesty might also start looking into oil spills and environmental pollution in the Niger-Delta region – having been effusive on the issue for many years now. It warned Shell in May, of the consequences of cleaning up Ogoniland as announced by the oil company.
Although the screening of ministerial nominees is underway in the Senate, reports reveal Amnesty might start investigations into these allegations as soon as the country appoints a minister of justice in the next few days.