Joint Task Force (JTF)
It’s propaganda from Boko Haram, says military
By Senator Iroegbu in Abujawith agency report
Troops fighting Boko Haram insurgency in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, are enmeshed in fresh allegations of extra-judicial killings.
A report yesterday by Reuters said the soldiers of the Joint Task Force (JTF) were filmed shooting unarmed captives in broad daylight by the roadside.
The allegation, which is based on a video clip that the news agency alleged it had a copy, is coming on the heels of similar allegations against security agents engaged in the anti-terror war levelled against them by Amnesty International and the United States Government in recent reports.
The military, however, has denied the report, describing it as “biased and mischievous.”
Boko Haram is fighting to carve an Islamic state out of Nigeria, and its fighters have killed hundreds in bomb and gun attacks, many of them from the security forces, since beginning the uprising three years ago.
The video was taken by a soldier who alleged he was present when the shootings took place two weeks ago. The soldier, who requested anonymity, passed it to Reuters yesterday.
In the grainy footage, a man sat down next to three or four corpses piled on the roadside. He pleaded for his life while soldiers shouted at him, while a crowd looked on a few meters away. “Please don’t fire,” the man said in Pidgin English.
He tried to stand up and get onto the back of a pickup truck to the left. A soldier shouted “come out,” and drags him off it, shoving him on the ground.
One of them kicked him in the head. Then he and another soldier aim assault rifles at him. Four gunshots are heard and the man lies still next to the others.
Nigerian forces have repeatedly denied accusations of such abuses, saying the only times they kill suspected militants was during combat. Those captured were questioned or freed, they say.
The United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Michael Posner, last Friday, said Washington was seriously concerned by reported abuses committed by Nigerian security forces in their efforts to quell the insurgency.
The killings in this video happened after a bomb attack on a military patrol further up the road, the soldier who provided the footage said.
Another video from the same source, which he said was taken after the execution, showed soldiers piling up about two dozen bodies in two bloody heaps on the ground from the back of a military truck.
It was widely believed that the videos could spur renewed calls for security forces to change their approach to the insurgency, which critics argued was prompting desperate, angry youths to join Boko Haram and encourage the northern population to shelter them.
However, Director of Defence Information (DDI), Col. Mohammed Yerima, has dismissed the alleged video as unfounded and a ploy by Boko Haram to falsely accuse the security forces.
Mohammed challenged Reuters to name the source of the video, adding that no Nigerian soldier was capable of carrying out such an act.
He warned local media not to allow itself to be deceived or influenced by what he described as “sensational propaganda by Boko Haram which is being championed by the foreign media.”