Police panel probes IDPs’ sexual abuse

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IDPs in Borno camp
IDPs in Borno camp

Nigerian police have set up a Special Investigation Team to thorough investigate cases of sexual abuses in camps of Boko Haram victims.

Rights activists had burst the bubble that security operatives were sexually abusing women and young girls in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Borno State.

There are 32 of such camps in the embattled northeast state.

No fewer than 43 cases have been reported by the Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In late July, 2016, Human Rights Watch documented sexual abuse, including rape and exploitation of 43 women and girls living in seven internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

The victims had been displaced from several Borno towns and villages, including Abadam, Bama, Baga, Damasak, Dikwa, Gamboru Ngala, Gwoza, Kukawa, and Walassa.

Four of the victims told Human Rights Watch that they were drugged and raped, while 37 were coerced into sex through false marriage promises and material and financial assistance.

Many of those coerced into sex said they were abandoned if they became pregnant.

They and their children have suffered discrimination, abuse, and stigmatization from other camp residents.

Eight of the victims said they were previously abducted by Boko Haram fighters and forced into marriage before they escaped to Maiduguri.

The Inspector General of Police, (IGP) Ibrahim Idris set up the investigation team on Thursday in Abuja.
Other issues to be probed include exploitation, harassment, gender based violence and professional misconduct of security operatives, especially the military.

Idris expressed deep concern over the submissions in the “embarrassing’’ reports and has directed the Panel to carry out a discreet and unbiased investigation into all the cases of abuse and misconduct alleged in the report.

The Police Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Don Awunah. said, Idris has called on Human Right Watch officials to avail more facts that will assist the Police investigation team.

“The Inspector General of Police has also directed Commissioners of Police in locations where IDP Camps are situated to beef up security and ensure adequate safety of all IDPs and ensure that all perpetrators of any criminal act are decisively dealt with in accordance to the law”.

The police officers and other personnel deployed to the IDP camps should strictly adhere to the rules of engagement.

“The Nigeria Police Force assures all Nigerians and the International community that the Force will not condone any act that will violate the human dignity of the IDPs by individuals or group of persons at the camps or anywhere in the country”.
Human Rights Watch Report.’’

A Senior Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, Mr Mausi Segun, said in the report that, “it is bad enough that these women and girls are not getting much-needed support for the horrific trauma they suffered at the hands of Boko Haram”.

“It is disgraceful and outrageous that people who should protect these women and girls are attacking and abusing them.”

President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed concern over the recently released Human Rights Watch (HRW) report.

He therefore ordered an immediate investigation into the allegation.

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