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U.S. set to withdraw military assistance to Nigeria over Baga massacre

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Image: Baga

May.03, 2013


United States of America may soon withdraw any form of aid to the Nigerian military in the wake of the controversy over the recent massacre of civilians in Baga, Borno State, during a clash between security forces and the insurgent Boko Haram Islamic sect, and other human rights abuses in Nigeria.

U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Terence P. McCulley, according to a competent source at a closed-door meeting with stakeholders of  Nigeria’s human rights community, said the laws of the United States do not support any form of aid to the military of any country found to be abusing the rights of its citizens.

This is coming just as the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) equally condemned the killings while declaring that what happened in Baga should not have been allowed in any civilized society.

Daily Independent learnt that at the meeting held in the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Abuja “issues of extra-legal killings by security agents and state of insecurity in the country were extensively discussed.”

Also discussed, the source said, is  “the unprecedented corruption in Nigerian government circles.”

At the meeting, McCulley reportedly restated the U.S. government’s worry about the issues discussed and made references to the recently released human rights report of the U.S. State Department which alleged widespread human rights abuses in Nigeria.

He then disclosed that the Barack Obama administration may withdraw any further assistance, financial or otherwise, to the Nigerian military.

In his own remarks, NBA President, Okey Wali, speaking in Abuja when he played host to Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Epiphany Azinge, noted that the NBA had repeatedly called for rule of law in the country.

“We are in very difficult times, due to Boko Haram and other insurgents.

“But what happened in Baga in Borno State where the security operatives killed many innocent Nigerians should never have happened in any civilised society.

“When the NBA called for amnesty it was not because of the love for the insurgents; our position has always been that law enforcement has failed and that was why we called for dialogue.

“The government has the responsibility to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians.”

Wali commended the Institute for the amendment of the penal codes,  but frowned at the action of the National Judicial Council (NJC) against Justice Talba over the pension judgement.

“We have always said that there was nothing wrong with the judgment, we are getting to a situation where our judges will be getting intimidated, we learnt that the prosecution had gone on appeal; we had thought that the NJC should have waited for the outcome of that appeal.”

Wali said the association had always called for adherence to the rule of law.

Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) also spoke on Thursday, saying it rejected the preliminary reports on the Baga tragedy submitted by the military high command and the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

It said “available, verifiable evidence has shown that the investigation that produced the reports was everything but thorough.”

In a statement in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party called for “an urgent and independent investigation into the incidents of April 16, 2013, at Baga to establish the truth, instead of an apparently shoddy investigation that could only have produced a convoluted report.

‘’Those who carried out that investigation apparently discountenanced the fact that in today’s world, nothing is hidden.

“Thanks to the satellite imagery released by Human Rights Watch on Wednesday, the world is now aware of the massive devastation that occurred in Baga. It is actually worse than what has been reported!

‘’The satellite images support the conclusion by the rights group that 2,275 buildings were destroyed in the clashes.

“They also seem to support the statements credited to the Senator representing the area, Lawan Maina, who put the death toll at 220.

‘’Contrast this to NEMA’s conclusion that far less than 1,000 homes were destroyed, or the military high command’s finding that only 36 people were killed, and it becomes glaring that something is wrong somewhere.

‘’The Nigerian media, now the favourite whipping boy of an increasingly edgy administration, has come under fire for reporting the massive killings and devastation.

“But those criticising the Nigerian media should endeavour to follow the international media’s reportage of the events in Baga to see that the local media is not just crying wolf,’’ ACN said.


Article Credit: Daily Independent Newspaper

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