UN calls for a probe into civilian deaths in northern NigeriaListen /
The United Nations is calling for a full and impartial investigation into the killing of at least 200 civilians in northern Nigeria, during a security operation to flush out Islamic militants.
The UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay says the operation, carried out in the town of Baga in Borno State, resulted in many civilian casualties, massive destruction of houses and property as well as displacement.
More than 2,000 homes were reportedly damaged during the operation which followed the killing of a soldier by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.
Ms Pillay says the military and other security agents must respect human rights and avoid excessive use of force when conducting security operations as these are feeding local resentment, especially when civilians are killed or have their property damaged.
Rupert Colville is the spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office.
“The Nigerian army has been conducting special operations searching for suspects or in retaliation for attacks since 2010 when Boko Haram first became prominent. However the latest clashes are considered as one of the deadliest interventions by the army in its fight against Boko Haram and seems to have involved indiscriminate targeting of civilians. While welcoming the important step the Government has taken in 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, whether they are Boko Haram elements or security forces, are held accountable and that amnesties are not granted to anyone responsible for very serious human rights violations.”
The Boko Haram has reportedly been responsible for a wave kidnappings, killings and drive-by motorbike assassinations of civilians and politicians, members of government institutions, security forces and foreign nationals.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio Geneva.