The CLEEN Foundation with support from Open Society Foundation (OSF) through Open Society Initiative West Africa (OSIWA) organized a two-day workshop on Inter-agency Collaboration for State and Non-State Actors on improving human rights compliance in countering violence extremisms. The event was held at Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
The event provided a platform for community residents who live at Maiduguri, Borno state capital and its environ to share stories of human rights abuse committed by security agents combating insurgency in Northeast, Nigeria.
Asides community residents sharing their experiences as it relates to human rights abuse, they made recommendations on how best they think the Nigerian state and the military will effectively combat insurgency which will help in a great deal in ending the war.
Many of the participants at the event complained about grave human rights abuse and asked for a town hall meeting where victims of human rights abuse will share their stories. They alleged, many at times, the government and the military shut the victims’ voice making it impossible for them to tell their own part of the story.
Some of them narrated how they are been exploited by the military on different routes of the state. One area they accused the military of exploiting them most is on the issue of National Identity Card. The military men on the check point collect as between N500 and N1000 from those who do not have the National ID in their possession.
Some of them accused the military of taking over the means of their livelihood, they alleged that their fish business have been taken over by the military while some accused the military of taken over their lands and are now cultivating beans leaving farmers who depend on those lands to dies of poverty and starvation.
In what appears to be a consensus among the community residents and civil society working in the state that participated in the event, residents want the military to be sincere in dealing with them as regards the fights against the insurgency. They indentified lack of trust between the locals and the military as a major impediment to the fight against the insurgency, and appealed to the military to be sincere in dealing with the locals if they want co-operation of the locals.
The military at the event appealed to the community residents to work with them to ensure insurgency is defeated. The army also said it has put mechanisms to ensure citizens report its officers who violate the citizens fundamental rights. They also, shared with participants how they have arrested, punished and dismissed some of its officers that were engaged in grave human rights abuse.
The workshop was attended by officials of the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Nigerian Civil Defence Corp, the Civilian Joint Task Force, Vigilante Association, Hunters Association, the Academia, religious groups and members of the Civil Society Movement, amongst others.