Nigeria to Launch “Intensive Investigation” into Alleged Abuses


September 19, 2014

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.

Read the full statement here. Watch Hunting Boko Haram below.

Sarah Childress

Sarah Childress, Former Series Senior Editor, FRONTLINE

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

A Consequential Supreme Court Term, Decades in the Making
For context on the historic U.S. Supreme Court term that ended June 30 — and several of its monumental decisions — revisit past FRONTLINE documentaries on how conservatives gained a court majority, as well as on abortion, guns, the environment and more.
July 6, 2022
Mass Shootings, a Supreme Court Ruling, Bipartisan Legislation: How America Reached This Moment on Guns
FRONTLINE has been chronicling America’s dialogue on guns for years. Get the backstory on the recent news in these documentaries.
June 29, 2022
The Supreme Court Has Overturned 'Roe v. Wade.' These Documentaries Show How We Got Here.
Overriding nearly five decades of legal precedent, the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S. These documentaries offer context on how America reached this moment.
June 24, 2022
Why the Black Educator Forced Out Over Bogus Critical Race Theory Claims Wanted to Share Her Story
ProPublica reporter Nicole Carr explains why educator Cecelia Lewis was hesitant to speak to reporters about white parents forcing her out of her job and why she ultimately decided she had to.
June 18, 2022