By Azeezat Adedigba
Women who live in refugee camps after surviving Boko Haram attacks have narrated how Nigerian and Cameroonian security officials maltreated them.
The women spoke on Thursday in Abuja at an event organised by Amnesty International (AI) to present its latest report on the situation in camps meant for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
In one of our previous edition we published details of the report which showed several women were raped and blackmailed by soldiers who offered food in return for sex after starving them.
Both the Nigerian government and the military have since rejected the report, saying no such things happen in IDP camps.
Few of the women spoken to by Amnesty International, who were willing to come on record, spoke to journalists on Thursday.
Kella Haruna, one of the victims, said it has been a terrible experience in IDP camps. She said both the military and Joint Task Force (JTF) violated the rights of the women.
Mrs Haruna, who spoke in Kanuri language, said many women were exploited sexually, and forced to trade sex for food.
“After liberating Banki, in fact the authorities were in Banki but we in the villages were left in the authority of Boko Haram,” she said. “We have nothing to do but to resolve to prayers which we continuously did until we were eventually rescued.”
“So when we were pushed to the Cameroonian territory, we were humiliated there too. Because we were stripped almost naked by the Cameroonian soldiers. We were later transferred to Banki. We were in Banki for four days; no food, no water, until we were eventually transferred to Bama camp.”
Mrs Haruna said she believed none of the atrocities she and other women later suffered would have happened if their husbands were present.
“It was at Bama that our husbands were blindfolded and then packed into a lorry and brought to Maiduguri, and we were told we would be taken to where our husbands are. And up till today, we have never seen nor heard from our husbands.
“The military then announced that ‘where are the women, we are going to take you to where your husbands are.’ So we just took whatever pieces that we have and then came out. When we came out, they just picked us and then dumped us in the same Bama, in the general hospital at Red Camp.
Recapture of Mubi Town
“In the Bama Camp, honestly there were no food, no water; and when you complain, they will beat you up and then our money have already been even taken by the soldiers so we were just left with nothing.”
It was that situation that the soldiers preyed upon to demand sex from many of the women, she narrated.
Another victim, Fatima Bukar, expressed sadness about the fate of her husband, sons and brothers who she said were detained by soldiers.
She said the families have not been provided with any official information on the detained male relatives.
“In fact, before separating us, they brought them out, washed them up and then they tied their eyes and then transported them to Maiduguri before in fact taking us to the Bama Camp,” she said.
She pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and end their sufferings.
The Nigerian military has in the past said arrested men were vetted to confirm if they were part of the Boko Haram or not.
Scores of those who were later found innocent have been released by the military. Hundreds more, who are yet to be tried for any offence, are however believed to still be in detention.
Government Must Act
Hamsatu Allamin, founder of Allamin foundation for peace in Borno State, who also spoke at the event, said it is painful that soldiers and members of the Civilian JTF, a government funded vigilante, are abusing the women sexually.
From the right Hamsatu Allamin, Founder of Allamin foundation for peace in Borno state, Sani Zoro, chairman, House of Rep committee on IDP’s Refugees and Initiatives on North East, Fatima Bukar, victim, Kulla Haruna, victim.
“Even if it’s just a soldier, or just a JTF that raped any of the women in the camps, he must be brought to book,” she said. “Even though these women are scared of what will happen to them for speaking out, but I believe all these women have the right to speak out if they are being raped.”
According to Mrs Allamin who also translated the Kanuri language spoken by the victims to English, about 1600 women have been molested and beaten in these IDP camps. She said about 437 husbands are missing.
“Some of these Nigerian military are worse than Boko Haram. We are not talking about hundreds of husbands, but thousands. The wind of change needs to blow across the nation. I believe the military should not be angry with this, but look for possible ways for solution.
“Lots of effort are going on by the human rights commission, military and law enforcement to protect and enhance the lives of people affected with insurgency,” she said.
The Director of Protection and Investigation at the National Human Rights Commission, confirmed the receipt of a complaint indicating that 437 men were arrested and have not been seen.
“I wrote to the Nigerian Army, forwarded the list to them and they responded saying none of the 437 names are on the list of those in all their facilities in Borno State.
“I even called our officers in Borno State to meet with the petitioners, but the army said they do not have the names in detention.”
For Saudatu Mahdi, a founding member of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), the scale of disaster Nigeria is dealing with in the North-east is beyond human imagination.
“Recently, we had a dialogue. But we cannot hold Boko Haram accountable at this particular point in time because the war is still going on; they are still in the bushes; and then the government has not initiated any move to declare formal ceasefire with Boko Haram,” Mrs Mahdi, whose BBOG has been demanding the release of girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram, said.
“When Dapchi girls were abducted,” she said, “we keep communicating with the non-violent ones who can reach out to the violent ones. Believe you me, one week ceasefire was declared so that Boko Harm will return Dapchi Girls; and they did.
“If we can declare one week ceasefire, why can’t we declare final ceasefire? So that the war will end and every other person can come out. What is stopping us for goodness sake?
Over 100 of the kidnapped Dapchi girls were released by the terror group. However, one of the kidnapped teenage students, Leah Sharibu, is still with the insurgents who refused to release her after she allegedly refused to rescind her Christian religion.
Mrs Mahdi said she believes this is the right time to seek for accountability for the atrocities committed by the few culpable soldiers and Civilian-JTF members.
In his remark, Auwal Rafsanjani, chairman, Advisory board, Amnesty International (AI) Nigeria, said AI is helping citizens to raise the consciousness and awareness of their rights.
“Amnesty International is not in competition with anybody; we are not politicians and we are not there to bring down the government. AI is there to ensure that rights of Nigerians are protected,” he said.
He said the protest by some groups against Amnesty International was organised by people who do not want to protect human rights in Nigeria.
“Based on the evidences we have, we had to bring in, physically, people who have been abused by this rights violation.
“Why will people say we are destabilising the country? We are only calling on the government to be responsible and proactive in promoting the rights of Nigerians,” he said.
Sani Zoro, the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on IDPs, Refugees and Initiatives on North-east, said all conflicts and wars have always been resolved through negotiation.
“Since we have not been able to take these guys down for over five years, we have no option than to embrace the pacifist option, the peaceful option,” he said at the event.
He complained about the communication deficiency among institutions that need to work together to resolve the insurgency.
“We’ve gotten up to 9 to 10 referrals saying there is gender based violence and lack of food in these camps and billions of naira are being appropriated for the survival of these people. We really need to be accountable.”
“Do you think the generalised violence we are witnessing in Kaduna State, the one consuming Zamfara State does not have a link to Boko Haram? On the map, Nigeria is competing with Syria in terms of displacement,” he said.
For a senator, Shehu Sani, the AI report should not be condemned by government.
“Women are becoming the target for atrocities and it is alarming. This report is not indicting, it is a copy of what we are in this country,” the senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District said.
He said it is sad that people in power may not even read the report at all as their focus has been shifted to election.,
“If a serving governor can say the rate of killings in Nigeria is being exaggerated, then there is a problem.
“As far as the North-east is concerned, there is no seriousness on the part of the government at all. If the captives were sons and daughters of a senator, minister or government official, they would have been released even if warrants spending all the money in Central Bank,” he said.
UN @73: CISLAC urges increased implementation priority for SDGs in Nigeria
As the world marks the Global Day of Action on SDGs, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) commemorates with the United Nations on its 73rd Anniversary, urging increased legislative priority and inclusive process in the implementation of SDGs.
In a statement Signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC Auwa Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) on Monday said that while the SDGs remains the globally ratified blue print to effectively drive development agenda and priorities, we find the critical roles of the legislators as paramount in actualising such priorities in Nigeria.
Rafsanjani said that as effective implementation of the SDGs requires greater transparency, accountability and political will, CISLAC calls on the legislators as custodians of the SDGs to promote, safeguard and strength oversight activities on implementation of the SDGs to high impact and efficiency at all levels.
According to the Executive Director, this syndicated action will enhance appropriate domestication and implementation of the SDGs by all levels of government with prioritised citizens’ engagements to promote sustainability and ownership.
He noted that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a set of 17 aspirational “global goals” and 169 targets adopted in 2015 by the 193 UN member states. With strong commitment by member states to steer policy-making that would be incorporated into national planning processes and policies. The United Nations encouraged countries to define national targets tailored to their specific circumstances and identify locally relevant indicators and data sources that will be used to measure progress towards achieving each of the SDG targets by 2030.
Recalled that since independence, one of the inhibitors of Nigeria’s development and economic stride has been corruption. Which has caused the mismanagement of our natural resources, poor healthcare provision and education, insecurity and youth unemployment and restiveness. Corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of our society that it is becoming more of a lifestyle that corrupt individuals are praised and worshiped.
He noted that Nigeria in 2017 was projected to have 43,000 individuals owning assets worth at least 1 million USD. The country also boasts of 23 billionaires with collective wealth reaching almost 78 billion USD. As the number of millionaires and billionaires increases every year, the poverty rate continues to proliferate due to staggering inequality, illicitness and corruption. Much of this wealth in Nigeria by certain individuals stems from corruption and embezzlement. Corruption in Nigeria is outrageous and its growth has further sunk the economy and drowned many into poverty.
“CISLAC in the same year, with support from Transparency International (TI), presented a Shadow Report on SDG 16, which was a modest contribution to the monitoring of the SDG progress in Nigeria and aimed at providing independent and objective assessment and progress made under SDG 16, in particular targets 16.4, 16.5 and 16.10. The report responds to three key issues related to the official SDG monitoring processes: the multi-dimensional nature of SDG targets, data availability and perceived credibility of data generated by government agencies. Collectively, these limitations provide a strong rationale for an independent appraisal of the government’s anti-corruption efforts in the context of the SDGs” he stated.
Nigeria has ardently adopted the SDGs much more than it did with the MDGs and the National Assembly (NASS) has demonstrated strong leadership role and best practices on the SDGs by chairing the African Network of Parliamentarians on the SDGs, a pan-African advocacy group facilitated by the United Nations and establishing standing committees in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, which are engaged with the implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria. However, there is still a lot to be done to ensure the prompt implementation of the SDGs, particularly SGD 16 are institutionalised in governance and systems.
CISLAC joined UN SDG Action Campaign (UNSDG-AC) to mark this year’s 73rd Anniversary of the United Nations through its Global Day to #Act4SDGs to call on stakeholders and citizens to amplify the impact of local and global actions for the SDGs by encouraging legislative and civic movement for the implementation and achievement of the SDGs.
“We also seek that the recommendations of the SDG 16 Shadow report be promptly given attention to and possible implementation.
The statement read further thus:
We call on the leadership of the National Assembly who have demonstrated commitment and guidance in the implementation of the SDGs, particularly SDG 16 to provide legal and legislative actions on targets 16.4, 16.5 and 16.10. NASS should also monitor and provide legislative oversight on the appropriation, release and management of funds to the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the SDGs (OSSAP-SDGs) to enable them function effectively, transparently and accountably in implementing the SDGs.”
We also remind all stakeholders that time is of essence to begin implementing the SDGs and make it a priority as 3 years has passed after its adoption.
We call on civil society, the media and all other advocates not to be despondent in the advocacy and campaign for the goals but continue their multi-sectorial engagement, reporting and monitoring of the SDGs. They should never work in silos but work together combining resources, skills and ideas for the realization of the SDGs.
CISLAC and her partners remain committed and open to partner and provide technical support to other organizations. We will continue to ensure that processes leading to the implementation of the SDGs are transparent, accountable and effectively monitored because we believe the realization of the SDGs is everyone’s business and rest on the pockets of combined efforts of all of us while leaving no one behind.
2019 presidency: Tambuwal has my blessings – Babangida
Former military president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida has said that Sokoto governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has his blessings in his aspiration for the 2019 presidential election.
Babangida said this when he hosted Tambuwal and his team at his Hilltop residence in Minna on Saturday.
He said Tambuwal is a grounded politician who understands the challenges of the country and has the potentials to fix them.
The former leader lauded Tambuwal for promoting peace, rule of law and unity during his reign as Speaker of House of Representatives.
“I am very proud that you belong to the generation that want to keep Nigeria as one. You have a good team to keep that.
I have no doubt that Nigerians will give you the opportunity to put these good ideas for the good of the country..
You know the country, you understand the challenges of the country. I trust you will work base on your conviction for this country.
You have my blessings and I will keep monitoring to ensure you don’t deviate,” Babangida said.
Tambuwal said he was in Minna as part of his nationwide consultation to seek the blessings of the former leader.
He said IBB and others fought to keep Nigeria as one but that it is unfortunate that the country is now divided along ethnic and religious lines. He promised to serve as a bridge and a unifier when elected as the president.
“Mr President Sir , we are here also to drink from your fountain of knowledge and experience and to consult you on this all important mission of not only securing the flag of our party the PDP in the 2019 Presidential election but also eventually by the grace of God getting elected as the president of this great country.
The former Speaker of House of Representatives vowed that he will assemble the best brains to turn around the economy of the country and restore the confidence of Nigerians in the government.
He also pledged to ensure devolution of powers to states, so that among other things, funds are available to states to carry out meaningful projects.
“I believe in the devolution of power to state. We will ensure states get more fundings for them to be able to carry out meaningful projects in their domain,” he said.
Osun Decide: Frank Raises Alarm Over Manipulation of Osun Election Results in Favour of APC
Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has raised the alarm over ongoing manipulation of the Osun State gubernatorial election results in favour of the APC candidate, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola.
Frank in a statement in Abuja on Sunday morning, said he has reliable information that security forces and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been directed to rewrite the results to make the APC candidate win.
He noted that even though most of the results have been declared at the polling stations, the military has been drafted to local government collation centres to change the figures.
Frank said: “Already, military personnel have been drafted to collation centres in the remaining local governments areas comprising the stronghold of the the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), especially Osogbo local government to rewrite the results.
“It is common knowledge that the chairman of INEC is already aware that PDP is in the lead and they are doing everything possible to alter the result to Favour the APC. Teargass was used on people in order to dispatch them from the vicinity to enable them carry out the planned manipulation.
“Mr chairman, here’s a test case for you to prove your integrity. Do not allow APC to use you as the world is watching.”
He called on both local and international observers in Osun State that monitored the elections to intervene by keeping vigil at the local government collation centres to prevent the plot to openly rewrite the results and deny rightful winner of victory
He called on the international community to hold President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, responsible should anything happen to votes already scored by Adeleke.
He also called on the people of Osun State to resist any attempt to foist a wrong Governor on them having voted to make their rightful choice.
“It is clear that Buhari is not committed to the conduct of free and fair elections so long it is the APC that will benefit from the rigging. In Ekiti, it was the use of security agencies to intimidate the people and massive vote buying, but this time they have activated their Plan B which is to outrightly change the election results to make the APC candidate win.
“Many people have spoken and rightly so that the Osun elections will largely determine what the world should expect during the 2019 general elections. With the current move to rig the Osun poll in favour of the APC, it is clear that a similar fate awaits the opposition political parties during the 2019 general elections, unless urgent steps are taken to prevent security forces and INEC from thwarting the expressed wish of the people of Osun State.
“The plot to change the results of the Osun Gubernatorial election results in favour of the APC candidate at the Local Government collation centres is not only the height of corruption but a direct slap on the face of Osun people who trooped out enmasse to cast their ballot in favour of their choice candidates.
As it is, Frank expressed fears that INEC as led by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has lost credibility to conduct the 2019 elections as I and a good number of Nigerians have lost confidence in him and the INEC of today.
“Everything must be done to prevent this electoral heist and open robbery by the Federal Government. Let the votes count. Let the true winner emerge. This country is not the property of the APC. This move will definitely be resisted by the people of Osun.
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