Kankara Abduction: We Shall Rescue Schoolboys…Military

Kankara Abduction: We Shall Rescue Schoolboys…Military

… ..Miyeti Allah Leads Negotiations with Abductors…Masari …Human Rights Watch Accuses Nigerian Security Forces of Jailing 3,600 Children for Collaborating with Boko Haram Just as the Military on Wednesday assured parents and concerned citizens that it will do everything possible to rescue abducted pupils of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, Human Rights Watch

… ..Miyeti Allah Leads Negotiations with Abductors…Masari

…Human Rights Watch Accuses Nigerian Security Forces of Jailing 3,600 Children for Collaborating with Boko Haram

Just as the Military on Wednesday assured parents and concerned citizens that it will do everything possible to rescue abducted pupils of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, Human Rights Watch released a report accusing the security forces of jailing 3,600 children for alleged collaboration with Boko Haram and other insurgency groups.

Defence Headquarters spokesman Maj.-Gen. John Eneche told reporters that the Military was not part of any form of negotiation with the abductors.

He said although the Military acknowledged the right of the Aminu Masari government in Katsina state to “negotiate,” it was working on its own strategy to ensure the safe rescue of the remaining 316 schoolboys “whichever way.”

Seventeen of the 313 students abducted by bandits last weekend have returned from the forest where they were taken

Governor Masari told Channels Television that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) was carrying out the negotiation on behalf of his administration.

He however dismissed insinuations that the government would pay cash to the kidnappers.

Masari said he was working with the security agencies to ensure that no attempt was  made to change the location of the children by the bandits.

“The leadership of MACBAN is the one that we are talking with. The Commissioner of Police and Special Adviser on Security are discussing with the leaders of Miyetti Allah, who are also discussing with those that abducted the children.

“This is the way we are talking to them. I am waiting for the feedback on their discussion. We are doing all we could to get the children back but what we will not do is to negotiate money with the bandits.

“We should be more proactive with the information given to the security agencies. Everybody should be more involved by providing reliable information and not misleading information that would endanger the lives of the security operatives.

“I am a Chief Security Officer without security apparatus. No Governor is a true chief security officer but that is our Constitution. We should do something about it but right now, I have over 300 students to look for. I am concerned, more concerned than everyone else except perhaps the parents. I am accountable here and hereafter.

“It is the responsibility of the security agencies to do what they are supposed to under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am quite aware of my responsibility and I will support these security agencies till they get each and every one of the children. I am the leader; I am not shying away from my responsibilities,” the Governor said.

He said none of the missing students is dead, dismissing fears about the safety of the boys.

“The children are alive and we have not received any report that anyone had fallen sick. So we assume that all is well with the children. I was in touch with at least two of the students that escaped on Saturday. I was also in touch on Monday with two that came back.”

Masari also refuted the claim by the Boko Haram that its members abducted the pupils, saying that “from the information available to us, this was conducted, executed by local bandits that are known to all of us.”

He added: “These are bandits that are roaming the forests of Zamfara and parts of Kaduna State. So far, this is the information we have. Whatever role any other terrorist group must have played, we are yet to confirm it.

“But with regards to this abduction, we have not seen any direct involvement of Boko Haram or ISWAP.”

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operation, while giving an update on the military operations across the country said: “I don’t know from history where the military or the armed forces go into negotiations when it comes to ransom and I don’t have any record.

“Nothing is connecting the armed forces with negotiation. If the Governor believes in that as a father, he is seeing it in a larger perceptive.

“We are going on with our operations, and we don’t step down our kinetic operations for any reason at all. There is nowhere in the world where you stop your kinetic operation; it is a total package because purported negotiations are going on. It is not done. We will rescue the school children whichever way, that’s what I can assure you.”

Gen. Enenche restated that none of the abducted boys was dead.

He said: “Nobody is dead; we have not received anything that anybody is dead from the information that we have monitoring the situation and then the troops are on guard as it were.

“They have started patrolling the whole of that area to ensure that they are intact and that we rescue them alive.”

He also explained why troops could not foil the kidnapping of the students despite arriving the scene during the attack.

He said the troops could not engage the bandits in gun fuel because the bandits used the students as body shields.

“When the troops came, it was not in the best interest of saving lives to start exchanging direct fire, of course firing to scare the bandits was done but not direct fire because the children were being used as human shields.

“What is the end objective when you come to rescue and end up killing those you came to rescue; it will amount to nothing. Of course in the hours of darkness, while that ensued they removed the children.”

Gen. Enenche also dismissed the reported claim by the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, that the schoolchildren were abducted by his men.

He said the claim was the usual propaganda of the terrorist group, adding that the military had continued to record successes against insurgents in the Northeast and bandits in the Northwest.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has said about 3,600 children were jailed by Nigerian forces for alleged ties with Boko Haram and other insurgency groups.

In a statement on children and armed conflict in Nigeria, Human Rights Watch Security Council’s working group on children and armed conflicts, expressed grave concern about the detention of children for suspected involvement with Boko Haram.

“The Nigerian government should comply with new United Nations Security Council recommendations to immediately release children from military detention for alleged association with Boko Haram,” Human Rights Watch said.

“The government should sign a protocol to hand children over from military custody to civilian authorities for reintegration.”

Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Advocacy Director, Jo Becker said many children have been detained with no evidence of Boko Haram involvement, while for others, detention only adds to the suffering they already experienced from Boko Haram.

“Nigerian security forces should release any remaining children and immediately sign a handover protocol to ensure that children victimized by Boko Haram receive the help they need,” Becker said.

A Human Rights Watch investigation in 2019 found that security forces detained children in severely overcrowded and squalid conditions. Children reported beatings, frequent hunger, and overwhelming heat.

Human Rights Watch said most of the children were never charged but were held for months or years with no outside contact. Following publication of the report, security authorities released over 300 children from a maximum-security prison in Borno State.

The Security Council working group noted that security forces had released 1,591 children from detention facilities between January 2017 and December 2019. The current number of children detained is unknown, as the authorities have denied the UN access to detention facilities. The working group called on the government to provide the UN with unhindered access to such facilities.

In 2017, the Security Council working group urged Nigeria to adopt a handover protocol to ensure the swift transfer of children apprehended by security forces to civilian child protection authorities for reintegration. Such handover protocols have been adopted and put into operation in countries like the Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda. In its new recommendations, the working group reiterated its call, urging Nigeria to expedite the review and adoption of a handover protocol.

The working group condemned ongoing violations by Boko Haram against children, including killing and maiming, recruitment and use of children, abduction, sexual violence, and attacks against schools and hospitals.

A report from the secretary-general issued in July stated that the UN had verified over 3,000 violations by Boko Haram against children in northeast Nigeria between January 2017 and December 2019, including over 1,000 child casualties and the use of over 200 children for suicide attacks.

The working group also commended the Nigerian government and the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) for implementing an action plan to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers. It noted that the CJTF had facilitated the disengagement of 2,203 girls and boys from its ranks and that the UN had verified no new cases of child recruitment since the plan was signed in September 2017.

“The Security Council has provided Nigerian authorities with concrete steps they should take to protect children affected by the conflict,” Becker said. “The government should carry out these steps as quickly as possible.”

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