The Nigerian Military Has A History of Killing Unarmed Civilians

October 21, 2020

Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.

The Nigerian military has a well-documented history of killing unarmed civilians. Listed below are five times the Nigerian military has killed unarmed civilians.

1. Baga Massacre, 2013

On 16 April 2013, 200 civilians were killed and over 2,000 houses were destroyed, with many other people injured in the village of Baga, Borno State, Nigeria.

Refugees, civilian officials and human rights organisations accused the Nigerian military of carrying out the massacre, even though the military blamed the massacre on Boko Haram insurgents.

Baga residents said the town was raided by angry soldiers in “retaliation” for the killing of a soldier. Another resident of the town stated that the destruction of lives and property in the town was triggered by a letter from Boko Haram to the Joint Task Force (JTF), which announced that they would chase the military out of Baga and environs.

According to the resident, “the threat letter was deemed to be provocative by the military. It equally sent jitters to us because some soldiers threatened that if we allow anything funny to happen here, we (the locals) would pay the price.”

2. Giwa Barracks Detentions, 2016

Giwa barracks is a military detention centre located in Northeastern Nigeria, near Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. NYTimes reported that over 150 people were killed in 2016 alone after they were illegally detained at the barracks by the Nigerian military.

Amnesty International reports that over 1,200 civilians were detained in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions at the Giwa barracks in 2016; at least 120 of them were children and 12 children died between February and May 2016.

One witness told Amnesty International that they saw the bodies of eight dead children including a five-month-old, two one-year-olds, a two-year-old, a three-year-old, a four-year-old and two five-year-olds.

3. Rann Bombing, 2017

At about 9 a.m. on 17 January 2017, the Nigerian Air Force Jet “mistakenly” bombed an internally displaced person (IDP) camp near the Cameroonian border in Rann, Borno State. The bombings killed at least 115 people including six Red Cross aid workers, with more than 100 people injured.

Major General Irabor, who ordered the airstrike, called the bombing a “disturbing mistake.” He said he had ordered the airstrike on the location because they had intel on Boko Haram militants gathering there. President Buhari’s spokesperson also called it a “regrettable operational mistake.”

4. Maiduguri Massacre, 2017

In February 2017, NYTimes reported that over 80 men in a Maiduguri village were shot to death after they were forced to strip their clothes and lie face down. The attacks looked as if it was carried out by Boko Haram gunmen.

However, villagers and other witnesses like Babagana said the killings were carried out by the Nigerian military. According to Falmata, a 20-year-old resident, the military opened fire on the residents after they failed to identify the Boko Haram members among them. This story was corroborated by other witnesses.

There are also accounts of how the Nigerian military dumped up to 60 corpses daily at the Maiduguri hospital, since as far as 2013.

5. Ngubdori Killings, 2017

In Ngubdori, a small fishing village in Borno State, Nigeria, soldiers and local vigilantes surrounded the village and rounded up all residents including those out working in the fields.

The soldiers forced men to remove their shirts to reveal any weapons they might be hiding, after which the soldiers told the residents to point out the Boko Haram members among themselves.

The soldiers killed two men who stepped out of their houses, after which they turned their weapons on the crowd, killing 13 more men. The soldiers grabbed a container of fuel, poured it on rags and set fire to all the grass huts before leaving.

Zainaba, another resident, said she she lost six relatives that day.

6. Operation Python Dance 2, 2017

According to the Igbo Civil Society Coalition (ICSO), a coalition of civil society organisations, activists and human rights groups, the Nigerian Army killed more than 180 people and injured more than 200 others in the Army’s “Operation Python Dance 2,” which took place between 8 September and 14th October 2017.

According to a statistical breakdown of the killings, 105 deaths were recorded in the Afara-Ukwu palace massacre, 20 deaths in Isiala-Ngwa, and 55 deaths in the Aba/Asa-Ogwe area.

The civil society organisation had put the death toll at 150 at an earlier report, only to later settle at over 180 deaths.

We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about how to unfuck yourself when the Nigerian government moves mad. Check back every weekday for more Zikoko Citizen explainers.

Doyin Olagunju

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