SaharaReporters has obtained videos of so-called ‘Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF)’ members torturing two suspected Boko Haram terrorists in the Maiduguri area of Borno State.
The area has been under constant attack by Boko Haram terrorists since 2012, suffering routine suicide bombings, occupation by Boko Haram members, and the destruction of property and livelihoods.
President Muhammadu Buhari declared in his 2015 inaugural address that Boko Haram would be defeated by December this year. He also announced that the Defense Headquarters would relocate to Maiduguri to combat Boko Haram terrorists. Terrorist attacks have so far remained common.
Nigeria has been criticized by local and international human rights groups for allowing systemic human rights abuses by the military. President Buhari told Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan on October 16 that he had “not received [any Amnesty International] documents,” and that his spokespeople have never given him copies of their report which revealed human rights abuses from Nigeria’s military during the fight against Boko Haram. He promised to prosecute individuals for war crimes and human rights abuses, but there have so far been no prosecutions.
‘Civilian JTF’ are basically local vigilante groups which collaborate with the Nigerian military in confronting Boko Haram and violent extremism, and have often been in the frontlines. They are frequent targets of the terrorist group and are usually the first responders to attacks by Boko Haram.
A military source told SaharaReporters, “I can tell you that these things [mob attacks and torture] are happening all the time. You can see them here, you can see them there.”
The three videos obtained by SaharaReporters from a citizen journalist, and compiled together, show the torture of two Boko Haram suspects by one such group of ‘Civilian JTF’ members. The citizen journalist providing these videos to SaharaReporters confirmed the torturers as civilians attached to the Joint Military Task Force in the Maiduguri area.
In one of the videos, a Boko Haram suspect is seenbeing hung from a tree, his arms tied behind his back. As the suspect dangles, someone stands on his back and the vigilante members stack heavy items on him as they question him. The torture of the suspect goes on for an undetermined length of time.
The second Boko Haram suspect tortured in the videos obtained is seen being pushed to the ground as a mob of people surround him. The vigilantes are seen standing on him as they interrogate him. As the torture session continues, the ‘Civilian JTF’ members beat the man, whose legs are covered in blood. The same vigilantes begin to waterboard the suspect, first with a water bottle then later with a large pale filled with water. The suspect is tied up and threatened with a knife by one of the vigilantes.
SaharaReporters contacted Colonel SK Usman, the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, but he told our reporter that the army “does not speak for them [the Civilian JTF]” and that the vigilantes “have their own structures who you should speak to.”
The compiled videos can be viewed in their entirety here.