Amnesty International has accused Nigerian security forces of failing to act on advance warnings about Boko Haram’s armed raid on the state-run boarding school in Chibok which led to the abduction of more than 240 schoolgirls on 14th – 15th April.
The human rights organisation today revealed that the Nigerian security forces had more than four hours of advance warning about the attack but did not do enough to stop it.
Netsanet Belay, Amnesty’s Africa Director, speaking from Abuja, said: “The fact that Nigerian security forces knew about Boko Haram’s impending raid, but failed to take the immediate action needed to stop it, will only amplify the national and international outcry at this horrific crime.
“It amounts to a gross dereliction of Nigeria’s duty to protect civilians, who remain sitting ducks for such attacks. The Nigerian leadership must now use all lawful means at their disposal to secure the girls’ safe release and ensure nothing like this can happen again.”
Belay added: “The abduction and continued detention of these school girls are war crimes, and those responsible must be brought to justice. Attacks on schools also violate the right to education and must be halted immediately.”
Amnesty has confirmed through various sources that Nigeria’s military headquarters in Maiduguri was aware of the impending attack soon after 7pm on 14th April, close to four hours before Boko Haram began their assault on the town.
But an inability to muster troops – due to poor resources and a reported fear of engaging with the often better-equipped armed groups – meant that reinforcements were not deployed to Chibok that night.
The small contingent of security forces based in the town – 17 army personnel as well as local police –attempted to repel the Boko Haram assault but were overpowered and forced to retreat. One soldier reportedly died.
More than three weeks later, the majority of the girls remain in captivity in an unknown location. A climate of confusion and suspicion has so far scuppered efforts to secure their release.
Amnesty has reiterated its call on Boko Haram to immediately and unconditionally release the hostages into safety and stop all attacks on civilians.