The Nigerian Military has come under criticism from Amnesty International, for their wanton subjection of children and minors to torture and unlawful detention in the Northeast region, ravaged by terrorism.
The group said this in a 91-page report, titled: ” ‘We Dried Our Tears’: Addressing The Toll on Children of Northeast Nigeria’s conflict”.
According to the Amnesty International, the report was based on interviews conducted between November 2019 and April 2020, with well over 230 people affected by the conflict, including 119 who were children when they suffered serious crimes by Boko Haram, the Nigerian Military, or both.
These figures are also made up of 48 children who were held in military detention for months or years, as well as 22 adults who had been detained with children.
“The past decade of bitter conflict between Nigeria’s military and Boko Haram has been an assault on childhood itself in Northeast Nigeria. The Nigerian authorities risk creating a lost generation unless they urgently address how the war has targeted and traumatized thousands of children,” the statement qouted Joanne Mariner, Acting Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International, as saying.
The group also included a story of a 17-year-old girl who narrated her life in the Sambisa forest after she escaped a 4 year Boko Haram captivity: “[My] wicked ‘husband’ always beat me… My daily activities included praying, cooking, if there was food, [and] going for Quranic lessons. No movement was allowed, and no visiting friends. It was a terrible experience, and I witnessed different punishments, from shooting to stoning to lashing.”
“She, and most other former child ‘wives’ interviewed – including some who returned with children born during captivity – had received little or no assistance in returning to school, starting livelihoods, or accessing psychosocial support,” Amnesty International said.
Even those who were able to escape Boko Haram captivity were detained and tortured for months, leading into years by the military.
“Most such detentions are unlawful; children are never charged or prosecuted for any crime and are denied the rights to access a lawyer, appear before a judge, or communicate with their families. The widespread unlawful detentions may amount to a crime against humanity.”
The Group called on the Nigerian Military to do the right thing by setting free, those it had unlawfully detained.
“Nigeria’s armed forces must release all children being arbitrarily detained and halt other violations that appear aimed at punishing thousands of children, many of whom were also victims of Boko Haram’s atrocities. A commitment to children’s education and psychosocial recovery could pave a new path for the Northeast.”
When Major General John Enenche said that he does not know where Amnesty International has gotten its data from and added that he will not act based on unproven information .