Nearly 1,000 people died in military detention in Nigeria in the first half of 2013, Amnesty International reported Tuesday, citing a senior officer in the Nigerian army.
The detainees’ deaths occurred in the context of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s offensive against the Islamist movement Boko Haram, which is waging a violent insurgency in the country’s north. In May, Jonathan declared a state of emergency in several northeastern provinces, authorizing security forces to round up hundreds of prisoners, many of whom were shot or suffocated in detention, according to Amnesty.
Nigeria has employed similarly heavy-handed tactics against Boko Haram since the group emerged in 2002, with little success, as Alex Thurston explained last year in a Strategic Posture Review on Nigeria.
In July 2009, following tensions with local authorities and the arrest of sect members, [Boko Haram] launched an uprising that extended to Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Katsina and Kano states. A crackdown by security forces left more than 800 people dead, some due to brutality by police and soldiers against civilians. Yusuf died in police custody.