Amnesty International has accused the Federal Government for violating global and regional human rights over the alleged heinous acts of its security agents for enforcing the disappearance of civilians in the Northeast. The organisation in seeking justice for victims filed a suit before the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice in Abuja in October. The international human rights organisation made this known in a statement signed by its Nigerian Director, Isa Sanusi, on Friday. According to the group, many Nigerians are still missing as their whereabouts have not been known since the period the Nigerian army and its sister agencies engaged in operations against the deadly terrorist group, Boko Haram, since 2015. In a statement entitled, ‘Nigeria: Amnesty International and others demand justice for victims of enforced disappearances in Northeast’, the organisation reacted to the federal government’s receipt of its application filed at the ECOWAS Court of Justice to demand justice for cases of enforced disappearances recorded in the Northeast region. Amnesty International said in partnership with the Sterling Centre for Law and Development and 23 victims and survivors, it filed a case at the ECOWAS Court to seek long-awaited justice, truth, and reparations for those who disappeared and their families. The northeast region of the country is the stronghold of Boko Haram carrying out much of the deadliest attacks in its headquarters in Borno, not leaving other states like Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Yobe. “By allowing the military to carry out thousands of enforced disappearances in the country’s Northeast and subsequently failing to genuinely and effectively investigate and prosecute those responsible, the Nigerian government has violated its international and regional human rights obligations and has failed victims,” the statement read. “The ECOWAS Court represents one of the few remaining avenues for accountability and justice for victims of enforced disappearances in Northeast Nigeria and their families, who deserve to know the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. The ECOWAS court can help bring about justice by clearly calling out as human rights violations the failure of the Nigerian authorities to properly investigate and prosecute. “We welcome the receipt of our application by the Nigerian government, symbolizing that this is now a pending case, and the victims will get their day in court. But this is just the first step. We call on the Nigerian authorities to cooperate closely with the Court in its proceedings, to conduct an independent, impartial and effective investigation into all cases of enforced disappearances in Northeast Nigeria, and where admissible evidence exists, to prosecute all those suspected of criminal responsibility in relation to the disappearances.” The organisation in its 2015 report tagged ‘Stars on their shoulders. Blood on their hands’, concluded that Nigerian security forces had allegedly committed war crimes and other serious human right violations, including enforced disappearances, during the course of its military operations in Northeast Nigeria against the armed group, Boko Haram. It noted that the whereabouts of thousands of people detained by Nigerian forces in the Northeast still remain unknown, adding that to date, Nigerian authorities have failed to conduct genuine, independent and effective investigations and prosecutions of these crimes.

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