The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is shocked by the frequent cases of heavy casualties of civilians, especially women and children in engagements with insurgents.
CDD condemns in strong terms the ugly incident that took place in Baga, Borno State where 185 people were reportedly killed during one of such engagements between the Joint Task Force (JTF) and suspected Boko Haram insurgents.
We affirm that there is no justification for the senseless killing of unarmed civilians, women and children inclusive, the burning of 2000 houses rendering at least 10,000 persons homeless, burning of 64 motorcycles and 40 cars.
We view this as a flagrant disregard of the rule of law and violation of Geneva Convention on the Rules of Engagement (RoE) guiding wars and other conflict situations. The actions of Nigerian security agents makes a mockery of the country commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions and reduce ti the barest minimum the excesses of security forces by 2015.
The aggressive acts perpetrated by Nigerian security agents on civilians have continued overtime unabated.
In retrospect students of Nasarawa State university engaged in a peaceful protest over the non availability of water and electricity supply on campus were engaged on in a warlike manner by soldiers invited by the university authority to monitor the protests and ensure tranquility in the university community.
In the process, 4 of the protesting students died, leading to the indefinite closure of the institution. A similar incident was recorded at Moon community; Kwande local government area of Benue state in April 2013, when about five trucks loaded with military men and heavily armed military entered the village market and attacked unarmed villagers. The incidents of Odi and Zaki-Biam remain indelible in the minds of Nigerians.
In the case of Baga, security agents must know that Violations of women’s human rights in situations of armed conflict and military occupation are violations of the fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian laws and Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols thereto.
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) urges the security agents to desist from the excessive use of force that often results in cases of civilian deaths, especially women and children.
The Baga incident must be fully investigated and those who are culpable be made to face the law. This would serve as a deterrent to would be perpetrators of such acts in the future.
CDD calls on the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the bill for an act to provide for the enforcement and punishment of crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and related offences and to give effect to certain provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in Nigeria
CDD extend its condolence to the people of Baga and all those affected in similar incidents.