Killings: During the year security forces under the command of JTF-RO, the army’s Seventh Division, the national police, the SSS, and other commands committed numerous killings.
The government claimed JTF-RO members faced disciplinary charges for human rights violations, but none was verified. According to eyewitnesses, press reports, and civil society reports, JTF-RO personnel allegedly committed numerous killings in Bauchi, Borno, and Yobe states, often after attacks by Boko Haram.
According to press and NGO reports, JTF-RO illegally detained and killed suspected members of Boko Haram in the Giwa barracks military facility in Maiduguri, Borno, and Sector Alpha and the Presidential Lodge facilities in Damaturu, Yobe. Former detainees alleged that torture and mistreatment by security forces led to the death of detainees in some cases. Authorities publicly denied the claims, describing them as inaccurate or unbalanced.
On April 16, witnesses in the town of Baga, Borno State, claimed Boko Haram shot and killed a soldier with the Multinational Joint Task Force, composed of soldiers from Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. In response Nigerian army members of the task force shot indiscriminately at individuals and animals and destroyed homes and property. The chief of defense staff and the police claimed that approximately 36 persons were killed, but Senator Maina Maaji Lawan, who represents Baga in the National Assembly, claimed based on his own field visit to Baga that up to 228 persons may have been killed. In addition reports varied on the extent of property damaged in the incident. Senator Lawan estimated the soldiers destroyed up to 4,000 homes, mostly by fire. HRW reported its analysis of geospatial images of the area affected showed at least 2,275 homes destroyed and another 125 severely damaged. The Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency disputed HRW’s estimate.
In June the NHRC released the report The Baga Incident and the Situation in North-East Nigeria: an Interim Assessment and Report. In preparing the report, the NHRC reviewed reports of the incident by Nigerian Defense Headquarters, the NPF, and various NGOs and interviewed security force personnel and persons displaced by the security challenges in the Northeast. The NHRC was unable to conduct an on-site visit to Baga to corroborate witness reports because of the state of emergency announced by President Jonathan on May 14. The report criticized Boko Haram’s attacks and the security force’s response to such attacks. Government officials in turn criticized the report and questioned its credibility.
On September 20, SSS operatives and a unit of the army killed nine persons squatting in an unfinished building in the Apo district of the Federal Capital Territory, where members of the National Assembly resided. The SSS claimed victims were members of Boko Haram and that the incident resulted from an investigation by the SSS and the army into a weapons cache allegedly buried on the property where the incident occurred. State security leadership defended the SSS’ and army’s action as self-defense in response to being shot at upon arrival at the house. The National Assembly and the NHRC opened investigations into the incident. There were no further updates as of year’s end.
On October 15, AI released the report Nigeria: Deaths of Hundreds of Boko Haram Suspects in Custody Requires Investigation. AI reported that according to senior army officers, more than 950 persons died in military custody in the first six months of the year alone and, on average, the army killed nearly five persons daily at military detention centers holding persons suspected of membership in Boko Haram. A large proportion of these deaths reportedly occurred in Giwa military barracks in Maiduguri, Borno State, and in Sector Alpha in Damaturu, Yobe State. Former detainees reportedly told AI that people died regularly of suffocation, starvation, lack of medical treatment, and extrajudicial executions. During an April visit, AI delegates discovered 20 emaciated corpses on the ground at the State Specialist Hospital mortuary in Maiduguri. The JTF-RO allegedly deposited corpses there daily for later collection and burial by the Borno state environmental protection agency. AI demanded that the government investigate deaths at detention facilities. On November 29, HRW published a press release detailing interviews with witnesses who claimed security forces had detained hundreds of young men suspected of being members of Boko Haram. Families reported that many of the detainees had disappeared. Former detainees of Giwa barracks also told HRW they had seen soldiers kill detainees, while many other detainees died as a result of life-threatening conditions within the cells.
On October 18, the Associated Press (AP) published the report Nigeria’s Military Killing Thousands of Detainees. The report stated that according to records from the Sani Abacha Specialist Teaching Hospital in Maiduguri, thousands of detainees died in military custody in the government’s crackdown on the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast. One hospital alone allegedly listed 3,335 bodies delivered by the military during the first six months of the year. According to the AP, in June the military delivered 1,795 bodies, making it the worst month in the records seen by the AP. The number of dead with Boko Haram connections was impossible to determine. News reports stated the government and military refused to comment.
On October 13, according to press reports, Seventh Division forces killed approximately 40 suspected Boko Haram members in the Borno towns of Gwoza, Bama, and Pulka.
While press articles often contained contradictory and inaccurate information, multiple sources confirmed allegations of abuses.
The media, politicians, local and international NGOs, and other observers, including HRW, frequently argued that the government had been unable to curb widespread abuses by the Boko Haram insurgency because it had not provided a policy response that addressed underlying grievances or had not mounted an effective security response, or both. Observers argued that the government’s strategy had created a climate of impunity, whereby the civilian population was victimized by both Boko Haram and government forces.
On September 14, C-JTF members reportedly killed four Boko Haram suspects who were trying to flee during a joint operation with the JTF-RO in the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State. No criminal charges were brought against the civilian JTF-RO members responsible for the killings. Also on that day, members of the C-JTF killed a police officer allegedly in retaliation for the police officer’s killing of a C-JTF member a week earlier.
Boko Haram committed drive-by shootings and bombings; killed security personnel and civilians, including local officials, religious leaders, political figures, and the general public; bombed churches; coordinated attacks on police stations, military facilities, prisons, banks, and schools; and conducted suicide bombings, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of persons, including civilian deaths. The rate of violent deaths at the hands of Boko Haram increased during the year to record levels, surpassing the number of deaths during 2012. Estimates of the number of Boko Haram victims varied, but based on available data, casualties ranged from 338 to 497 from May to September 2012, and 717 to 925 for the same period during the year.
On March 18, suicide bombers detonated explosives at a bus depot in Sabon Gari in Kano, reportedly killing more than 40 persons. On July 29, two blasts in Christmas Quarters in Sabon Gari reportedly left approximately 20 persons dead. Witnesses reported two churches damaged in the two later blasts. Christmas Quarters is a hub of nightlife and activity in Kano with bars, clubs, and restaurants.
On May 7, Boko Haram militants launched an attack against a prison in Bama, Borno State, releasing 155 inmates and killing 55 persons, including police officers, prison staff, soldiers, and civilians. The militants also burned down government buildings, including a police station and barracks, an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office, a local government secretariat, a magistrate court, and a primary school.
On July 6, suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a secondary school in Mamudo, Yobe State, before dawn, burned the school, and killed 42 persons, mostly students. Boko Haram denied their involvement in the attack, but Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau expressed his support for the attack in a video released a few days after the attack.
On August 11, Boko Haram militants dressed in military uniforms attacked a mosque in Konduga, Borno State, and killed 44 persons.
Boko Haram retaliated against the civilian JTF-RO on several occasions. For example, on June 9, suspected Boko Haram militants killed 13 members of the civilian JTF-RO in Maiduguri, Borno State. On August 30, Boko Haram militants dressed in military uniforms killed 24 youths in Monguno, Borno State, whom they suspected of being members of the C-JTF. According to media and other reports, revenge motivated Boko Haram fighters on September 17 to mount a roadside attack in Benisheik, Borno State, pulling travelers from their vehicles and summarily executing more than 145 persons.
On September 29, suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a dormitory at the College of Agriculture in Yobe State. As many as 50 students were shot and killed in their beds.
On October 4, in its report Keep away from Schools or We’ll Kill You: Right to Education under Attack in Nigeria, AI alleged that attacks during the year by Boko Haram and other groups in the North resulted in the deaths of 70 teachers and scores of students. Many others were injured. Thousands of students were forced out of school in communities across northern Nigeria, and many teachers fled for their safety. AI observed that during the year attacks became more targeted and brutal than in previous years, when schools were attacked mostly while they were empty.
Abductions: An increasing number of kidnappings had links with terrorism. For example, on February 17, members of Ansaru, a Boko Haram terrorist offshoot, killed a guard and kidnapped seven foreigners working for the construction firm Setraco International Holding Group from their compound in Jama’re, Bauchi State. The victims were nationals of the United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, Syria, and Lebanon. There were no official updates on the status of the victims as of year’s end.
In December 2012 Ansaru announced it abducted a French engineer who worked for energy firm Vergnet in protest against the proposed French military action in Mali against Islamist groups and the French ban on the full-face veil known as the niqab. On November 18, newspapers reported that the French hostage had escaped from his captors and returned to France.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: Security forces used excessive force in the pursuit of Boko Haram suspects, often resulting in arbitrary arrest, detention, or torture (see section 1.c.).
HRW reported cases of Boko Haram abducting and raping women from villages and during their attacks. Commanders of the C-JTF told HRW that, working with security forces, they had rescued 26 women from Boko Haram captivity. Some of the women were reportedly pregnant while others had children born in captivity. Human rights groups alleged that security forces harassed and raped women while conducting raids to discover Boko Haram suspects.
Child Soldiers: During the year youths under the age of 18 participated in Boko Haram attacks. Reports suggested boys as young as 11 were paid to fight for Boko Haram, plant bombs, and serve as spies and suicide bombers. HRW reported direct participation in C-JTF activities of persons under 18. Witnesses described seeing children ages 15 to 17 working with C-JTF at checkpoints within several towns in Borno State. C-JTF members admitted to having used numerous children in operations, specifically to collect information.
Also see the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report at 2009-2017.state.gov/j/tip/.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: Domestic and international press and NGOs reported attacks on hospitals by government security forces. In May, according to press and social media reports, members of JTF-RO attacked Maiduguri Teaching Hospital and beat hospital staff and patients.
C-JTF supplied the JTF-RO with information about suspected Boko Haram militants, apprehended suspected Boko Haram militants, and reportedly manned some checkpoints.