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Press briefing notes on Nigeria

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 3 May 2013

1) Nigeria

We are very concerned about the large number of casualties, reportedly including many civilians, and massive destruction of houses and property, as well as displacement that has taken place in over the past few weeks in north-eastern Nigeria.

According to various sources, about 200 people were killed, at least 70 others injured, and more than 2,000 houses were damaged during raids conducted by Nigerian military troops in Baga, Borno State, which began on the night of April 16 -17 and continued over the following days. The raids reportedly took place following an attack on a military patrol by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which killed a soldier.

The attacks occurred in the Borno State, which is considered the main base of the extremist Islamic group Boko Haram, and has been experiencing increasing insurgent violence and intimidation. Boko Haram has reportedly been responsible for kidnappings, killings and drive-by motorbike assassinations of civilians and politicians, members of government institutions, security forces and foreign nationals.

The Nigerian army has been conducting special operations searching for suspects in the wake of bomb attacks, and or in retaliation for the killing of members of the security forces. However the latest clashes have resulted in what has perhaps been the single deadliest intervention by the army in its fight against Boko Haram.

We welcome President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to hold accountable all those involved in the human rights violations perpetrated during the Baga attack, and urge the Nigerian government to carry out a full and impartial investigation of the incidents.

We call on the Nigerian government to make sure its efforts to achieve security are in full compliance with human rights principles and we urge security forces and the military to respect human rights, and avoid excessive use of force when conducting operations, as these are feeding local resentment, especially when civilians are killed or have their property damaged.

We repeat our calls for concerted efforts to tackle the causes of the repeated outbreaks of violence in the north east of Nigeria and to put an end the cycle of violence and deadly reprisal attacks.

While welcoming the important step the Government has made by establishing a Committee to open talks with Boko Haram and work out modalities for an amnesty and compensation for victims, we urge the Nigerian authorities to make sure that perpetrators of serious human rights violations, including by Boko Haram elements and members of the security forces, are held accountable and that amnesties are not granted to anyone responsible for very serious violations.

ENDS
For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 93 10 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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