Nigeria to Launch “Intensive Investigation” into Alleged Abuses
Nigeria’s top diplomat in the U.S. said his government was launching an “intensive investigation” into atrocities allegedly committed by Nigerian security forces and reported by FRONTLINE in Hunting Boko Haram, in the government’s first major public statement about the documentary since it aired earlier this month.
“The alleged behavior is contrary to everything the Nigerian government stands for and the basic tenets of military discipline,” Ade Adefuye, the ambassador, wrote in the open letter, which was posted online. He said the images were “deeply disturbing,” adding: “We are undertaking an intensive investigation into these reports. We will not turn a blind eye to abuses of our people’s human or civil rights.”
The documentary was the culmination of a yearlong investigation into more than 100 videos gathered by FRONTLINE correspondent Evan Williams, which found that as Nigerian security forces pursued the terrorist group Boko Haram, it appeared to be committing atrocities against civilians.
Other government officials said before the documentary aired that Nigeria was investigating some of the incidents, although they also expressed doubt about whether the perpetrators were members of the security forces. Adefuye also raised the possibility that Boko Haram, which has obtained government uniforms and weapons, may have posed as soldiers in the videos FRONTLINE obtained. But this is the first time that a Nigerian official has suggested that there could be problems with the country’s counterinsurgency approach.
In his letter, Adefuye wrote:
We do not claim that our counter insurgency efforts have been flawless, as is in the case when any democracy confronts a terrorist insurgency. Nigeria will get this right because, as a democracy, the public will hold us accountable. Boko Haram has no such scruples and no such constraints.
The ambassador noted, as FRONTLINE also documented, that Nigerian security forces have been locked in an intense battle with Boko Haram, which has committed numerous atrocities against civilians. But Adefuye added that as a democracy, the Nigerian government should be held to a higher standard than a terrorist group.
When democracies fight terror, they must be held to a higher standard than the enemy they face. My Government welcomes scrutiny from our people and international partners. The checks and balances that come from being in the media spotlight will only benefit us all in the long run.