Nigerian authorities have been urged to ensure the military does not carry out atrocities against civilians in its clampdown on Islamic militants, as a state of emergency was declared in three northeastern states on May 14 in a bid to end Boko Haram’s four-year insurgency.
US Secretary of State John Kerry Saturday said this in a renewed a plea while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an African Union summit.
“Boko Haram is a terrorist organisation and they have killed wantonly and upset the normal governance of Nigeria in fundamental ways that are unacceptable,” Kerry said.
“We defend the right completely of the government of Nigeria to defend itself and to fight back against terrorists. That said I have raised the issue of humans rights with the government,” he stressed.
Activists as well as the United States have voiced concerns over the fighting, with Nigeria’s military regularly criticised over its response to the insurgency due to allegations of major abuses.
“We, all of us try to hold to the highest standards of behaviour,” Kerry said in a joint press conference with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “One person’s atrocity does not excuse another’s.”
He insisted the authorities should not seek revenge, saying the best way forward was “good governance, it’s ridding yourself of the terrorist organisations so you can establish a standard of law that others can respect.”
Kerry added that “to their credit the government has acknowledged that there have been some problems, they’re working to try to control it.”
Insurgents disguised in military uniforms on May 7 broke into a prison and attacked several government buildings in Bama, leaving 55 people dead. The women and children were around the sites at the moment of the attack and were taken hostage and were just rescued on Friday.