David Cameron must urge Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to stop side-stepping justice and start independent investigations into war crimes and possible crimes against humanity by the Nigerian military, Amnesty International said in a statement released on Wednesday.
The call comes a day ahead of President Buhari’s visit to the UK to attend the Supporting Syria Conference in London on Thursday.
Amnesty also reiterated its call upon the UK Government to ensure any military assistance provided to Nigeria is in keeping with human rights standards, and not provided to units accused of crimes under international law and other serious violations of human rights.
Amnesty has documented crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations committed by the Nigerian military in its fight against the armed group, Boko Haram.
Since 2011 Nigeria’s soldiers have extra judicially executed more than 1,200 men and boys; more than 7,000 men and boys have died in military detention as a result of starvation, torture, extreme overcrowding and denial of medical assistance, and more than 20,000 people have been arrested in the course of security operations in north-east Nigeria since 2009.
Amnesty has also named nine top-ranking officials who should be investigated for potential individual or command responsibility for the war crimes. In a concerning move, Major General Ahmadu Mohammed, one of senior commanders named in Amnesty’s 2015 report, was last month reinstated to office.
Major General Mohammed was in command of operations when soldiers killed more than 640 unarmed recaptured detainees following a Boko Haram attack on the detention centre in Giwa barracks on 14 March 2014. Video footage and witness testimony reveals soldiers shot detainees in the streets or cut their throats and threw their bodies in to mass graves.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“Charges of the worst possible crimes have been levelled at the Nigerian military. Just days after taking office President Buhari himself stated that he would leave ‘no stone unturned to promote the rule of law’ and that he would look into our findings.
“It is bitterly disappointing then, only nine months after from taking office, Buhari has done nothing to independently investigate these egregious crimes. David Cameron must raise these issues with President Buhari when they meet this week. This is no time for a diplomatic tap-dance around matters of mass unlawful killings, arbitrary arrest and deaths in detention. Cameron must use this opportunity to help bring justice to the families of the victims of these horrendous abuses.”