Killings: Units of the NA’s Third, Seventh, and Eighth Divisions, the NPF, and the DSS carried out operations against the terrorist groups Boko Haram and ISIS-WA in the Northeast. Some military forces allegedly killed suspected members of the groups and engaged in retaliatory tactics against civilians believed to have harbored or be associated with the groups. Security forces also committed mass arrests of men and boys for suspected collaboration with or tacit support of the insurgents. A 2015 AI report asserted that between 2013 and 2014, the military committed more than 1,200 extrajudicial killings in the course of operations against Boko Haram.
In February the New York Times newspaper, citing sources in the community, reported that in June 2016 unidentified elements of the military executed more than 100 unarmed men in two villages in the Marte area of Borno State. As of September there were no public reports of investigations or prosecutions related to these incidents.
In 2014 press and NGOs reported the NA illegally detained and killed suspected members of Boko Haram in Giwa Barracks, in one instance executing 622 prisoners following a Boko Haram attack on the installation. NGOs and former detainees stated that starvation and other forms of torture by the military resulted in detainee deaths at military detention facilities, including Giwa Barracks. In a 2015 report, AI stated that security forces arbitrarily arrested approximately 20,000 persons in the region between 2009-15. Of these, AI estimated more than 7,000 died of thirst, starvation, suffocation, disease due to overcrowding, lack of medical attention, the use of fumigation chemicals in unventilated cells, and torture.
On March 8, the army convened a BOI to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed by the army during campaigns against the insurgency in the Northeast, including in its detention centers. On May 18, the BOI presented its findings to the chief of army staff. While the full report was not publicly available, the board briefed the press on some of the report’s conclusions and recommendations. The board documented conditions at military detention facilities, including the center at Giwa Barracks, and found instances of overcrowded cells and unsanitary conditions. The BOI concluded that these detention conditions, and delays in trials of alleged Boko Haram members, sometimes resulted in deaths in custody. The BOI also found that the denial of access to legal representation is a violation of human rights. The board, however, reportedly found no evidence of arbitrary arrests or extrajudicial executions of detainees. The board also stated it was “unable to substantiate” any of the allegations against senior officers, claiming a lack of documents or other forensic evidence. The BOI reportedly did not find any individual member of the NA at fault for any human rights violation in military detention facilities, nor did it recommend prosecutions or other accountability measures for any member of the Armed Forces of Nigeria or other government entity. Notably, however, the BOI did not meet internationally accepted best practices for investigations. In particular, the board lacked full independence, did not have forensic or other evidentiary expertise, and did not consult testimonies from victims of human rights violations in compiling its evidence, thus calling into question some of its conclusions. In August acting President Osinbajo announced a civilian-led presidential investigative panel to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement.
Boko Haram and ISIS-WA attacked population centers and security actors in the states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe. These groups also targeted anyone perceived as disagreeing with the groups’ political or religious beliefs or interfering with their access to resources. While Boko Haram no longer controls as much territory as it once did, the two insurgencies nevertheless maintain the ability to stage forces in rural areas and launch attacks against civilian and military targets across the Northeast. From these areas of influence, the groups were still capable of carrying out complex attacks on military positions, and they deployed large numbers of roadside improvised explosive devices.
Boko Haram employed hundreds of suicide bombings against the local population. Women and children carried out many of the attacks. According to a study by UNICEF, nearly one in five suicide attacks by Boko Haram used a child, and more than two-thirds of these children were girls. As of August, UNICEF reported that Boko Haram used 83 children to carry out suicide attacks; of those, 55 were girls. On August 15, three female suicide bombers dispatched by Boko Haram detonated their suicide vests in the market area of Konduga town, killing 16 civilians and injuring 82 others. There were multiple reports of Boko Haram killing entire villages suspected of cooperating with the government.
ISIS-WA targeted civilians with attacks or kidnappings less frequently than Boko Haram. ISIS-WA employed targeted acts of violence and intimidation against civilians in order to expand its area of influence and gain control over critical economic resources. As part of a violent and deliberate campaign, ISIS-WA also targeted government figures, traditional leaders, and contractors. For example, on July 25, ISIS-WA ambushed a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation convoy escorted by the CJTF and NPF in Magumeri Local Government Area (LGA), Borno State, killing at least 48 persons and kidnapping three contractors.
Abductions: As of September, NGO and activist allegations of thousands of enforced civilian disappearances by security forces in the Northeast remained uninvestigated by the government.
Boko Haram abducted men, women, and children, often in conjunction with attacks on communities. The group forced men, women, and children to fight on its behalf. Women and girls abducted by Boko Haram were subjected to physical and psychological abuse, forced labor, forced marriage, forced religious conversions, and sexual abuse, including rape and sexual slavery. Boko Haram also forced women and girls to participate in military operations. Most female suicide bombers were coerced in some form and were often drugged. Boko Haram also used women and girls to lure security forces into ambushes, force payment of ransoms, and leverage prisoner exchanges.
While some NGO reports estimated the number of Boko Haram abductees at more than 2,000, the total count of the missing was unknown since abductions continued, towns repeatedly changed hands, and many families were still on the run or dispersed in IDP camps. Many abductees managed to escape Boko Haram captivity, but precise numbers remained unknown.
Approximately half of the students abducted by Boko Haram from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in 2014 remained in captivity. The government successfully negotiated the release of 82 of the kidnapped women in May, in addition to the 21 women released in October 2016.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: Security services used excessive force in the pursuit of Boko Haram and ISIS-WA suspects, often resulting in arbitrary arrest, detention, or torture (see section 1.c.).
Arbitrary mass arrests continued in the Northeast, and authorities held many individuals in poor and life-threatening conditions. There were reports some of the arrested and detained included children believed to be associated with Boko Haram, some of whom may have been forcibly recruited. Conditions in Giwa Barracks reportedly marginally improved during the reporting period, as the military periodically released small groups of women and children, and less frequently men, from the facility to state-run rehabilitation centers; however, deaths in detention continued. According to army statements to the press, the BOI report made numerous recommendations for improving the detention conditions and judicial processes for suspected Boko Haram and ISIS-WA members. As of August, however, no one had been held accountable for abuses in Giwa Barracks or other military detention facilities.
Boko Haram engaged in widespread sexual violence against women and girls. Those who escaped or that security services or vigilante groups rescued faced ostracism by their communities and had difficulty obtaining appropriate medical and psychosocial treatment and care.
Reports indicated government officials, security forces, and others committed sexual exploitation--including sex trafficking--and such exploitation was a major concern in state-run IDP camps, informal camps, and local communities in and around Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, and across the Northeast. “Gatekeepers” in control of some IDP camps, at times in collusion with police officers and soldiers, reportedly forced women and girls to provide sex acts in exchange for food and services in the camps; in July 2016 an NGO reported camp leaders, policemen, soldiers, and vigilante groups exploited 37 women and children in sex trafficking among seven IDP camps in Maiduguri. During the reporting period, the government arrested several individuals accused of trafficking in the camps, and their cases were pending as of year’s end.
Child Soldiers: Children under age 18 participated in Boko Haram attacks. The group paid, forcibly conscripted, or otherwise coerced young boys and girls to serve in its ranks and perpetrate attacks and raids, plant improvised explosive devices, serve as spies, and carry out suicide bombings. According to UNICEF 83 children were used as “human bombs” from January to August, a number that was four times higher than it was for all of 2016. Of those, 55 were girls, most of whom were under age 15. Twenty-seven were boys, and one was a baby strapped to a girl. In April the United Nations reported it had verified recruitment during the year of 563 children by Boko Haram, although the majority of these cases occurred in prior years. Boko Haram used children to conduct suicide attacks in the country, Cameroon, and Chad. The group also used abducted girls as sex slaves and forced them to work for the group.
Although the government prohibited the recruitment and use of child soldiers, reports from a credible international organization indicated that, in 2016, elements of the NA used children in support roles as messengers, porters, and guards. During the year reports indicated that the military coordinated closely on the ground with the CJTF, which used children in support roles, and in some isolated cases directed children associated with the CJTF in support roles during joint operations. The CJTF recruited and used 175 children in support roles in 2016. During the year at least 23 children were confirmed to have been used as of September, although the CJTF reportedly ceased recruiting children. The children were reportedly used to staff checkpoints, conduct patrols, spy, and apprehend suspected insurgents.
The Borno State government provided financial and in-kind resources to some CJTF members. According to government officials, community members in the Northeast, and some international NGOs, only CJTF members who had been part of the Borno State Youth Empowerment Program--a state-sponsored training and employment program whose participants underwent vetting to establish they were more than age 18--received any kind of support.
In the 2016 annual report of the UN Secretary-General, the CJTF was listed as responsible for recruitment and use of children. In September the United Nations and the CJTF signed an action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children. Among other actions, the plan committed the CJTF to issue written standing orders to all members banning recruitment and use of anyone under age 18, establish a Disciplinary Committee to respond to any violations, and establish Child Protection units throughout the CJTF. The United Nations and CJTF also agreed to provide support to rehabilitate and reintegrate children previously associated with the CJTF. As of November the CJTF and United Nations had begun implementing the action plan. The United Nations monitored compliance and provided technical support and training.
Also see the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.