Saturday, May 11, 2013

US, UK demand probe of Baga, Bama killings

The United States Government and Britain have called for a thorough probe into the recent alleged mass killings of civilians and destruction of property by security forces and Boko Haram insurgents in Baga and Bama towns of  Borno State.

In a statement, it warned that the growing insecurity in the country was a threat to overall stability in Nigeria and West Africa.
It called on the National Human Rights Commission to investigate the alleged massacre of Baga residents by soldiers.
It said, “We are deeply concerned about reports of excessive use of force by Nigerian security forces in the name of combating Boko Haram, including extrajudicial killings, prolonged detention and disappearances.
“We are concerned that such an indiscriminate, force-based approach to counter terrorism is increasing extremism and decreasing confidence in the Federal Government.”
It warned that Nigeria’s reputation “as an emerging leader and a stable democratic government” was being tarnished by these alleged atrocities and called for a thorough probe of the reports.
The US said it was fully in support of Nigeria’s efforts to put an end to the menace of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram and called for the prosecution of all members of the group, who were responsible for the Bama attack.
Similarly, British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has expressed sadness over reports of multiple deaths in Bama, Borno State following an attack by Boko Haram.
In a statement released by the UK High Commission in Nigeria, he said the protection of civilians remains vital.
Hague urged the Nigerian government to investigate all such incidents “rigorously, objectively and transparently.”
The statement reads, “I am deeply saddened by reports of multiple deaths in the town of Bama in North-East Nigeria, following an attack by an extremist group.
“My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims and all those affected. This is the latest in a series of extremist attacks on innocent civilians in Borno State. These attacks have no justification and I condemn them in the strongest terms.
“The growing insecurity and escalation of hostilities in North-eastern Nigeria is of deep concern. The attack in Bama follows the terrible loss of lives in the town of Baga last month and disturbing allegations of human rights violations.
“The British government supports Nigeria in tackling the challenges posed by terrorist and extremist violence. However, the protection of civilians is of vital importance.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency on Friday said it noted the opinion and the concerns expressed by the United States Embassy on the recent killings in Nigeria just as it noted what it called the very encouraging and supportive comments by the UK Foreign Secretary, Rt. Hon. William Hague, on the same matter.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, told journalists that it was noteworthy that thorough investigations as canvassed by the US were already ongoing on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said the President’s position was that those found culpable would be made to face justice.
He said it was not true that government had a force-based approach to the security challenges, saying the approach has been multi-dimensional.
Abati said, “The major point in response to this statement by the US Embassy is that thorough investigations are already ongoing with regard to the incidents in Baga, Bama, Nasarawa and other places.
“President Jonathan is on record as having ordered very thorough probes. He has also encouraged independent investigations by the National Human Rights Commission. In addition, he has had to cut short his trip to South Africa and cancel his planned state visit to Namibia. He is back in the country to personally oversee the situation.”

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