by Dare Lawal
The unfortunate incident in Baga, Borno state, in which over 187 Nigerians lost their lives when soldiers from the Multi-national Joint Task Force clashed with Boko Haram militants, has been overshadowed by the more recent developments in the country following the state of emergency declaration by President Goodluck Jonathan.
However, the Ango Abdullahi led Northern Elders Forum (NEF) is determined not to let the issue peter out completely. Abdullahi has disclosed that NEF will be filing a formal complaint to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about the behaviour of the Nigerian military and government, which they accuse of violating human rights.
“What we are doing now is to organize our evidence that would make it possible for us to make a very strong case against the government and its agencies, or up to individuals who may be complicit, in terms of the human rights violations that have been taking place in the last few years.
“There is sufficient evidence, from our point of view, in terms of human rights violations that have been going on with a lot of impunity in the last three years or so around the activities of the government and its agencies and around the country.
“I think it’s because nobody seems to really take the matter seriously to draw attention, not only to other parts of the world, to the Nigerian authorities themselves.”
Ango Abdullahi also denied allegations by some commentators that the NEF had links with the Boko Haram sect.
“We didn’t create the insurgents. It may have been created by somebody, but it is up to the government to prove a case that the insurgency has been created deliberately to cause havoc in the country. It happens that perhaps if there is any indication … that this matter has been politicized, it must have been politicized by the government or its agencies,” he said.
Abdullahi also seemed to imply that the militants of Boko Haram have been treated unfairly by the government.
“If this sect had been treated like many other sects that we’ve had in this country for many years, perhaps we would not be where we are now,” he said. “There [have been] thousands of people detained in terribly inhumane conditions all over the country. Among the thousands of people that have been in detention for many years now, only one as far as I know is in court now.”