Friday, May 9, 2014

Amnesty Reveals The Nigerian Military Knew of Planned Chibok Attack and Abductions

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Amnesty International in a recent press release has confirmed  that Nigeria’s military headquarters in Maiduguri was aware of the impending attack on Chibok before it happened. Various sources say they were alerted soon after 7pm on 14 April, close to four hours before Boko Haram began their assault on the town.


According to the Amnesty report,

Between 7pm on 14 April and 2am on 15 April, the military commands in Damboa, 36.5 km away from Chibok, and Maiduguri, 130 km away from Chibok, were repeatedly alerted to the threat by both security and local officials.

According to sources interviewed by Amnesty, local civilian patrols (known as “vigilantes”, set up by the military and local authorities) in Gagilam, a neighbouring village, were among the first to raise the alarm on the evening of 14 April after a large group of unidentified armed men entered their village on motorbikes and said they were headed to Chibok. This set off a rapid chain of phone calls to alert officials, including the Borno State Governor and senior military commanders based in Maiduguri.

One local official who was contacted by Gagilam residents told Amnesty:

“At around 10:00 PM on 14 April, I called [several] security officers to inform them about earlier information I had received from the vigilantes in Gagilam village. They had told us that strange people had arrived in their village that evening on motorbikes and they said they were heading to Chibok. I made several other calls, including to Maiduguri. I was promised by the security people that reinforcement were on their way.”

Another local official was contacted by herdsmen who said that armed men had asked where the Government Girls Secondary School was located in Chibok.

At around 11:45 PM, a convoy reportedly numbering up to 200 armed Boko Haram fighters – on motorbikes and in trucks – arrived in Chibok town and engaged in a gunfight with a small number of police and soldiers based there. Outnumbered and outgunned, the security forces eventually fled in the small hours of 15 April. Some of the Boko Haram fighters proceeded to the Government Girls Secondary School and abducted more than 240 schoolgirls.

Two senior officers in Nigeria’s armed forces confirmed that the military was aware of the planned attack even prior to the calls received from local officials. One officer said the commander was unable to mobilize reinforcements. He described to Amnesty the difficulties faced by frontline soldiers in north-eastern Nigeria:

"There’s a lot of frustration, exhaustion and fatigue among officers and [troops] based in the hotspots…many soldiers are afraid to go to the battle fronts.”

Amnesty’s requests for a reaction from the military headquarters in Abuja have gone unanswered.

This is really not a flattering image of the Nigerian military, and how they are protecting the civilians in the areas where Boko Haram operates. Now, it is more than three weeks since the abductions and majority of the girls are still in captivity, some of them reportedly trafficked to neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. I hope that going forward, the military is better equipped by the government so they can do a better job of protecting Nigeria's citizens.








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