By Dubem Jideonwo | November 20th, 2014
Last week the Atlantic Council hosted a hard-hitting talk on “Stability and Human Rights in Nigeria: Latest Updates from the Field”in which they welcomed Mausi Segun, Nigeria Researcher and Analyst for the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Chom Bagu, Nigeria Country Director for the Search for Common Ground. The conversation was led by Bronwyn Bruton, Africa’s Center Deputy Director.
The event started off with a call to attention on the latest attacks in Northern Nigeria, speculated to have been led by Boko Haram. This terror attack consisted of the bombing of a training college in Kano State, Northeast Nigeria, which resulted in the death of at least 50 school children and teachers. It was clear that Boko Haram will be an even higher priority now.
Chom Bagu followed with Nigerian citizens’ criticism of the Nigerian military and their lack of ability to control Boko Haram. He stated that the Nigerian government has made attempts to take local territory back, with almost no success. Bagu spoke in length about Northeast Nigeria, stating that the lack of security has left many inhabitants displaced who now require urgent humanitarian assistance; due to the current prevalence of high jacking, it is difficult for humanitarian aid to get to where it’s needed.
Speaking directly about Boko Haram, Bagu stated that “Boko Haram seems to have started changing its strategies and tactics… most Boko Haram arms are [seized] from the government.” Bagu drew attention to the fact that Search for Common Ground is making efforts to shore up critical community structures that are falling apart in the Northeast as a result of these various attacks, and the fact that they are currently working with media to get the word out and encourage voter registration for the upcoming elections.
Mausi Segun then spoke about the civilians who have been affected by both sides of the conflict; at least 7,000 civilians are dead due to the ongoing violence. The cause of some of these deaths, she explained, is unclear due to speculations on the involvement of Nigerian Security Forces. As a result of these attacks, women and children have been left the most vulnerable. 500 women and girls have been abducted since 2009, and more have been victimized and attacked.
Segun concluded by stating that Boko Haram needs to be held accountable and that “a solely military response cannot deal with this.” She proposed that the U.S. push for investigations of charges against Nigerian Security Forces and greater government transparency. Bagu agreed with this and stated that it would be up to the Nigerian Security Forces to work together with community and religious leaders to promote security and stabilize the region.
Dubem Jideonwo is a member of the Business Development team at the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). At IGD, she is responsible for maintaining and expanding the network of innovative companies committed to business driven development in Africa. She recently graduated from Boston University where she double majored in Economics and Sociology. Her primary interests are in sustainable economic development and public health strictly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Photo courtesy of The Atlantic Council