By Soni Daniel, Kingsley Omonobi & Ndahi Marama
No fewer than 23,000 Nigerians have been killed since the outbreak of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-eastern part of Nigeria.
A group, Network of Civil Society Organisation, NECSO, gave the figure at the Northeast Humanitarian Summit held yesterday as part of the activities designed by the United Nations General Assembly, to honour those brutally murdered by terrorists in Bagdad, Iraq, including a UN envoy, Sergio Vieira De Mello.
The Chairman and Chief Executive of NESSO, Amb. Ahmed Shehu, said that since the commencement of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east seven years ago, it has claimed over 23,000 lives, while about 2.15 million have been internally Displaced.
Ambassador Shehu lamented that residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, in particular and the northeast were exposed to unceasing severe humanitarian crisis, triggered by insurgency and counter insurgency operations by the security agencies.
According to him, such measures have resulted in deaths, insecurity and human right violations, exacerbating the plight of vulnerable civilians and triggering waves of forced displacement.
Shehu said, “the present security challenges in Borno have left thousands of families without homes and loved ones. The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are not well taken care of by both national and international actors, as they are overlooked in all interventions and do not exist in the framework and thematic areas of most interventions.
He said the humanitarian summit is to guide and support a comprehensive and coordinated humanitarian effort that is in concert with the broader response.
“The overall goal is to harness commitments, support and investment that is driven by the affected population to respond to humanitarian crisis and honour those who lost their lives in humanitarian services and those who continued to bring assistance and relief to millions.
The representative of Borno State Governor, Alhaji Bulama Mali Gubio, explained that the crisis in Borno state was different from those in Afghanistan, Somalia and other parts of the world, as the Boko Haram terrorists not only kill people but they also destroy houses, maim, abduct, rape women and commit other heinous crimes beyond human imaginations.
He appealed to the international community to assist in the reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement process, so that the IDPs will return to their various communities to pick up the pieces of their lives.
However, the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, said last night that it was investigating reports of human right abuses in the Northeast and will make its findings public at the appropriate time.
The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Prof Bem Angwe, while responding to enquiries by Sunday Vanguard, said that the commission had not yet seen the NECSO report detailing human rights abuses in the northeast.
Prof Angwe said that the commission had its independent experts monitoring events in the northeast and would soon make its finding known.
It will be recalled that Amnesty International had recently accused the security agencies for unbridled human rights abuses in the region, a claim the Defence headquarters dismissed as untenable.
Recently, a statement from the Acting Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar said, “These accusations come as a surprise and shock because human rights bodies have accessed our military facilities and made recommendations which were implemented.
It is rather unfortunate that these organisations would come around release reports that are completely baseless, unfounded and source-less with the intent of denting the image of the Nigerian Armed Forces. We will not be deterred by these reports, but would remain committed to the task we have started against the Boko Haram terrorists until they are annihilated. The Nigerian Armed Forces uphold the tenets of observance of human rights and dignity of lives of innocent individuals as enshrined in the Conventions and Charters of the United Nation which Nigeria is a signatory”.