Wednesday January 23, 2019
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Stars on shoulders, blood on hands: Nigerian army accused of 8,000 murders



Abuja: Human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Wednesday denounced the death of 8,000 people at the hands of the Nigerian army during the struggle with Boko Haram in the north of the country, calling the murders war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

In a report entitled “Stars on their Shoulders, Blood on their Hands: War Crimes Committed by the Nigerian Military,” released on Wednesday here, Amnesty collected testimonies and case-files documenting the use of torture, extrajudicial executions and arbitrary detention of thousands of young people and children in the chaos following Boko Haram.

After the attacks of Boko Haram in the northeast stronghold of the terrorists, the army often launched “mop-up”, during which most of the killing took place.

“The highest levels of Nigeria’s military command, including the chief of army staff and chief of defence staff, were regularly informed of operations conducted in northeast Nigeria,” the report claimed.

The most serious case documented by the NGO took place on March 14, 2014 when the army killed more than 640 detainees who had fled the Giwa barracks after a terrorist attack.

An army veteran testified to orders he had received: “Soldiers go to the nearest place and kill all the youths. People killed may be innocent and not armed,” he told Amnesty.

According to the report, since 2009 at least 20,000 young people were arrested including children as young as nine years, and in most cases the arrests were arbitrary, since “almost none of those detained have been brought to court”.

The conditions in which the detainees were held were also discussed in the report: “Sometimes we drank people’s urine, but even the urine you at times could not get,” a former detainee told Amnesty.

“Hundreds have been killed in detention either (by soldiers) shooting them or by suffocation,” an official told the NGO.

The organisation called for an investigation to hold those responsible accountable, whether soldiers, mid-level or senior officers in the army.

“We call on newly-elected President Buhari to end the culture of impunity that has blighted Nigeria and for the African Union and international community to encourage and support these efforts.” (IANS)

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Access To Public Facilities Restricted To Over 27Mn Disabled People In Nigeria

In November, Nigeria’s disabled protested to the national assembly, demanding passage of the long-delayed bill.

FILE - Health official administers a polio vaccine to a child in Kawo Kano, Nigeria.VOA

In Nigeria, over 27 million disabled people live in obscurity, treated like second-class citizens, without access to public facilities. The Nigerian Disability Bill is meant to address these shortcomings. But, nearly two decades after it was initiated, the law has yet to be enacted.

Musa Muazu, 31, became disabled as a teenager when he suffered a fall that left him paralyzed. He relies on a wheelchair to get around.

Muazu is one of 27 million disabled Nigerians trying to lead a normal life.
But a lack of handicapped facilities means disabled people like Muazu struggle for access.

“Public infrastructures in Nigeria is another… let me call it a hell to persons with disabilities ranging from the school, you can imagine as a person with disabilities you’re going to lectures in a four-story building.. you can imagine you want to access probably a bank, hospital, places of worship, there’s no provision for ramp for you to come in,” he said.

disability, Nigeria
In Burkina Faso, about 10 percent of the population is disabled. Some, like Laya, are helped by an operation, such as the removal of a cataract, but for others Light for the World, an international disability and development charity, helps in other ways, including community based rehabilitation, VOA

According to Nigeria’s Center for Citizens with Disabilities, 98 percent of public structures and facilities are not handicapped accessible.

At a community for the disabled in Abuja, thousands of handicapped Nigerians live virtually segregated from the rest of society.

Since 1999, Nigeria’s disabled have been seeking a law ensuring access to public buildings, roads, and sidewalks and protection against discrimination.

But their efforts to push for the Disabled Bill have been met with resistance.

Nigeria’s disabled account for a third of the 87 million people living in extreme poverty. On the streets of Abuja, many are reduced to begging.

They accuse the government of willful neglect and exclusion – a charge authorities deny.

disability, Nigeria
A person with disability, VOA

“The law of other people that are abled are being passed,” noted Mohammed Dantani, secretary of the Disabled People’s Community. “Are we not Nigerians? We’re also citizens, our number 27 million reached the number that when we pass a motion, it’s supposed to be listened to or heard.”

Also Read: Early Diagnosis and Treatment Can Prevent Disability from Leprosy

In November, Nigeria’s disabled protested to the national assembly, demanding passage of the long-delayed bill.

Lawmakers responded in December by finally passing the bill – to President Muhammadu Buhari.

In 2014, then candidate Buhari promised to sign the bill if elected. But as Nigeria heads to elections once again in February, that promise has yet to be fulfilled. (VOA)