Baga: Satellite Images Show 2,275 Houses Razed – Human Rights Watch

A WOMAN WALKS PAST BURNED HOUSES IN THE REMOTE TOWN OF BAGA, NORTHERN NIGERIA, ON APRIL 21, 2013. © 2013 Reuters
A WOMAN WALKS PAST BURNED HOUSES IN THE REMOTE TOWN OF BAGA, NORTHERN NIGERIA, ON APRIL 21, 2013. © 2013 Reuters

The Human Rights Watch yesterday released satellite images showing massive destruction of properties from a military raid in Baga two weeks ago which put a lie to the claim by authorities that only 30 houses were destroyed.In the report of its investigation issued yesterday, Human Rights Watch said Baga residents revealed how soldiers ransacked the town on April 16 and 17 after members of Boko Haram attacked a military patrol, killing a soldier in the process.

“Community leaders said that immediately after the attack they counted 2,000 burned homes and 183 bodies. Satellite images of the town analysed by Human Rights Watch corroborate these accounts and identify 2,275 destroyed buildings, the vast majority likely residences, with another 125 severely damaged,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement yesterday.

It would be recalled that the Presidency stated that reports of massive destruction of property and loss of lives in Baga town were mostly exaggerated but the report of the Human Rights Watch introduces a new dimension as to what truly happened in that community.

In its report, the Defence HQ said only 36 people died but did not give specific number of houses burnt. However, last week the military commander who led the Baga operation Brig. Gen. Austin Edokpaye said a total of 30 houses were burnt and that the fires were caused by the Boko Haram fighters who used weapons with conflagrating effects.

For its part, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said the entire houses in Baga were not up to 1,000, and its officials counted only 32 fresh graves.

But Human Rights Watch yesterday noted that the discrepancies between the official reports and the facts on the ground smacked of attempts of a cover-up.

“The Nigerian military has a duty to protect itself and the population from Boko Haram attacks, but the evidence indicates that it engaged more in destruction than in protection,” Bekele said.

“The glaring discrepancies between the facts on the ground and statements by senior military officials raise concerns that they tried to cover up military abuses.”

He said the HRW interviewed seven residents of Baga who fled the town on the night of the devastation. The report also added that many survivors spent several nights hiding in the bush but expressed fear in describing what they saw fearing military retaliation.

“The destruction and killings by soldiers in Baga are serious human rights violations. The government needs to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators, regardless of rank,” Bakele added.

In its reaction to the latest evidence as presented by HRW, Director of Defence Information Brigadier General Chris Olukolade yesterday, said: “The report of the fact-finding military team on Baga given to the President by the Chief of Defence Staff remains the stand of the DHQ until reasonably and fairly proven otherwise.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. Now is the solders revenges the dead of one soul on mass civilians every day we face waster and deity dooms when will this mess stop.

  2. Irrespective of the number of grave yards or casualties reports,fact is the baga habitants accomodates the boko haram sect in their territory. What they should have done was to have exposed them before this time out since they know they live among them. Am not trying to say it serves them right,but its assume you that harbour a thief should also be referred as a thief knowing fully well hat you are harbouring a thief.

  3. Only an irresponsible Government Kills her citizens. What ever the military did is because they knew that the government will not be concern as the life of the ordinary Nigerian is not important to this Government. May God help us.

  4. Where are other buildings razed by our soldiers,we can see just one picture out of over 2,000 buildings as purported by the questionable report.How many news agency was indeed in the Baga community?,our style of journalism is backward,unscienfic and unconventional.
    Is time we wake up,if you allow CNN or BBC or ALJAZEERA or EURONEWS to investigate the Baga saga,you will clearly see the difference between professionalism and mere sentiment we’ve displaying all this while.
    Let us get the fact and project the fact to the populace,the Nigerian citizens.

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