Nigeria’s Guantanamo?

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Few days after the suicide bomb attack at St Rita’s church in Kaduna city, on the 28th of October the authorities still suspect the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, was behind the incident.

Police detain an alleged protester in the outskirts of Kano (Photo REUTERS/ Radu Sigheti)

On the first of November, the security forces were said to have carried out widespread abuses in their campaign against the militants in Maiduguri, Nigeria. In the process, innocent civilians were killed, tortured and houses were burnt. Allegations have been denied by the military, BBC reports.

Residents in the north-eastern city reported that dozens of young men have been shot dead by the military. An imam said about 11 youths from his street alone were killed, including four of his own sons.

In the morning, gunshots were heard and thereafter, people were said to have been killed. Malam Aji Mustapha, , reported that after morning prayers on Thursday soldiers took him and his children to an open field where many people had already been taken.

He said:

« They killed four of my children in front of me. They took their bodies to the mortuary of the general hospital » .

According to BBC, in recent weeks people have been fleeing the worst affected areas. A student who fled from Damaturu to Kano said:

« There is a place called Guantanamo in Damaturu where the military keep people to punish them”.

He equally revealed that:

« Even if you are not Boko Haram you are punished so harshly that you call yourself Boko Haram. Then the army will kill you. »

An Amnesty International’s Lucy Freeman told the BBC in Kaduna that the security forces are making the situation worse, they should be protecting and preventing Boko Haram attacks by working with the communities, instead of alienating them. He said they are subject to Human rights violations.

He further disclosed:

« You also risk recruiting for the group that you are trying to fight. When a child sees their parent killed by the security forces or they have their house burnt down the effect of that is going to be to strengthen support for the group rather than to hinder it« .

Still in Maiduguri, there was another incident. The following day, 2nd of November, a former member of the Supreme Military Council, General Shuwa, veteran was gunned down on Friday in his house at Gwange in Maiduguri along with his guest.

Abu Mohammed Abdul-Aziz claimed to be the Boko Haram’s spokesman and revealed during a teleconference that late General Shuwa is regarded with high esteem by Boko Haram as he has never said anything wrong about them. He warned those spreading rumors that the group is responsible for his killing, Channels TV reports.

A Christian youth leader in Kaduna, Obadiah Diji disclosed that Christians have been living in constant fear since the sect Boko Haram started its rebellion.

He said that in fact, churches now have metal detectors and women are not allowed to carry hand bags for the fear that an attacker may dress up as a worshipper, hiding a gun or bomb in a hand bag.

He said:

“…our religious life has been severely disrupted – along with our social life. The streets of the city center are almost deserted at night. People are too scared to go clubbing or to just sit around a table, drinking beer and eating fish”.

“We now lead secluded lives, staying at home. It is only the police who are on the streets of the city at night”.

They are the latest people to have their lives turned upside down by the cycle of violence in northern Nigeria, BBC says.

Afolake Oyinloye

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