Amnesty Int’l Accuses Nigerian Authorities of Detaining Hundreds Illegally


Ejiofor Alike
Global rights group, Amnesty International, has accused the federal government of illegal detention of several Nigerians and raised concern that hundreds of people are being held in secret detention.

The organisation said in a statement on Tuesday that the enforced disappearance of persons, which is being perpetrated by the agencies of the federal government, is prohibited under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, to which Nigeria is a state party.

Amnesty’s statement, which marks the International Day of the Disappeared being celebrated today, noted that enforced disappearances are being used to instil fear into civilian population living in areas of the country wracked with conflict and insecurity.
The group’s media manager, Isa Sanusi, called on the government to release details on the fate and whereabouts of all those who have been disappeared.

“Many families of the victims of enforced disappearance spend painful years searching for justice, truth and reparation but are ignored or misled about the fate of their relatives. The authorities must do the right thing now by releasing all of them or disclosing information about their fate or whereabouts” the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said.

According to Amnesty International research, most enforced disappearances take place in the conflict-ridden North-east of Nigeria where young men are often seized by the military after being accused of affiliation to the armed group Boko Haram.

The organisation obtained details of men, women and children who are victims of enforced disappearance in other parts of Nigeria.
According to figures provided to Amnesty by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), at least 600 of their members’ whereabouts are not known since the clashes with the military in December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna state.

The figures showed that more than 350 people are believed to have been unlawfully killed by the military between December 12 and 14, 2015.
Amnesty quoted the families of some of the victims who told the group about their painful ordeal of years in search for justice.
According to the group, one Malama Zainab Isa said her husband, Abdullahi Abbas, and their six children’s whereabout or fate is not known since the night of December 14, 2015, following the clashes in Zaria.

“He sells books at the Husainiyyah where the clashes took place. All six of our children were with him that day. Up to now we don’t know their fate. We don’t know whether the seven  of them are alive or dead and no one is giving us any information that can ease our pain,” the group quoted the woman as saying.
Amnesty also quoted Ibrahim Aliyu, whose three brothers’ whereabouts or fate is not known since 2012 after arrest by state security services as saying that:

“Before my three brothers disappeared, we used to contribute money to support our extended family.
“Now without them, the burden is entirely on my shoulder. I have to do everything; take care of their families and provide for our mother. Our mother is now perpetually ill, because she thinks a lot about my brothers’ fate. Sometimes, I feel I can’t bear the pain anymore,” Aliyu added.

Commenting on the International Day of the Disappeared, Amnesty International called on the Nigerian authorities to investigate all cases of enforced disappearances and bring all those suspected of criminal responsibility to justice in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts without recourse to death penalty.
“In addition, the authorities must provide full reparation to victims and their families, including compensation, rehabilitation, restitution, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.”

“We call on authorities to investigate cases of enforced disappearance across Nigeria to end this crime under international law that makes the victims vulnerable to torture and other human rights violations. The families of the victims of enforced disappearance have already waited too long for answers. They deserve justice, truth and reparation now,” Ojigho added.