By Fateema Idris
Amnesty International has demanded justice for thousands of victims of Boko Haram insurgency in the north eastern states, saying only justice could heal the wound created by the violence in the region.
Amnesty Country Director, Osai Ojigho, who was in Maiduguri, Borno State capital at the weekend on a solidarity visit to some women affected by Boko Haram insurgency, said the violence had affected the fabric of family life with hundreds of people randomly killed, arrested or kidnapped either by the military forces or insurgents.
“Insurgency has greatly affected family life. Many families don’t even know the whereabouts of their beloved ones. Many are victims of military arrests, sexual harassment and exploitation either by the military troops or Boko Haram, brutality or conscription by the insurgents.
“Many husbands have been killed by the military without trials or by Boko Haram. For us, we believe the only way to heal the wound is to ensure justice and punish those who perpetrated these atrocities,” she said.
The head of the global human rights watch in Nigeria said she led a team of two to Borno to identify with over 2, 000 women called the Knifar women, whose husbands were either killed or arrested by the military and kept for over three years without trial.
She said the women have been demanding explanations from the authority on the whereabouts of their husbands, sons, fathers and uncles who were arrested in the wake of the violence in Borno but never returned since. She said Amnesty International had raised awareness and global solidarity to demand the rights of the women.
“We are joining the women and other affected persons to demand answers to some questions. Why has it taken us over ten years to get over this crisis;, how many people are affected, taken away by the military or the insurgents; where are they and how many are dead or alive? Who are the perpetrators? Why is it difficult to arrest the Boko Haram commanders and bring them to justice for their acts?” she asked.
She said there had been outpouring of support and solidarity for the Knifar women from France, India, United Kingdom, US, Germany and some parts of Nigeria.
She appealed to the government to act in the interest of justice. “Justice must be served for the people to move on from the painful past,” she said as she presented all the solidarity messages from across the world to the Knifar women.
Initiator, Jire Dole Network of Victims and Relations of Conflict in the North East, Hajiya Hamsatu Allamin, said the network was overwhelmed by the huge solidarity across the world for the people affected by the crisis in the North East.
“We never knew the little efforts we are putting for these women and relations were being monitored and appreciated elsewhere,” she said. She urged Nigerians to show empathy and support victims of violence or crisis in any parts of the country.
Some of the women thanked Amnesty International for their solidarity and appealed to the group not to be weary of its advocacy and activism by demanding the rights of the vulnerable ones in the society.
“We’ve been hearing what you’re doing,” 30- year-old Fatima Bukar said. “We won’t give up our demands for the release of our husbands and brothers,” Yakura Hajara, 25, said. Both Fatima and Yakura lamented that their husbands had been in military detention for over three years.