Video Footage Reveals New Concerns about Nigeria’s Military

West Africa

U.S. Sponsored Training of Nigerian Military in March 2014In the midst of a push by some U.S. policy makers to provide more U.S. aid to the Nigerian security forces to combat Boko Haram despite a generally poor human rights record, Amnesty International released video footage reportedly showing fresh evidence of human rights violations committed by the Nigerian military.

According to Amnesty, the video footage shows “what appear to be members of the Nigerian military and CJTF [a state-sponsored militia] using a blade to slit the throats of a series of detainees, before dumping them into an open mass grave” in the Nigeria state of Borno on March 14, 2014. The video also reportedly reveals the Nigerian military and CJTF members beating alleged Boko Haram members lying on the ground with sticks and machetes in Bama in July 2013.

Following the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in the Chibok area of Borno state in North east Nigeria by Boko Haram, the U.S. government has been mobilizing efforts to help the kidnapped girls. The Obama Administration reportedly sent State Department, F.B.I and Pentagon specialists to advise the Nigerians. U.S. surveillance planes have also been flying over areas where the girls could be held.

However, the U.S. government has been reluctant to broaden its support to the Nigerian security forces to combat Boko Haram. The administration said Nigerian officials “ignored past American warnings to soften brutal tactics that only fueled Boko Haram’s insurgency.”

In early May, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the United States has provided around $3 million in security assistance to Nigeria, including “training for Nigerian law enforcement officials on basic forensics, interview, and interrogation techniques.” It’s unclear if any of the Nigerian military personnel in Amnesty’s footage had been trained by the United States; although, the U.S. government has trained some Nigeria military officials from Borno within the past four years.

In response to Amnesty video footage, Nigerian senior officers have vowed to investigate the veracity of the claims and detect who are behind those acts. Nigerian authorities added "that level of barbarism and impunity has no place in the Nigerian military."