The terrors of Boko Haram and the Nigerian militaries and their militias

Written by: David Wiley

Primary Source: Africa Militarism Watch

On Tuesday, Sep 9th, PBS Frontline broadcast  a terrifying documentary on the horrific torture and killings bythe Nigerian military and the militias they have created in response to the horrors of Boko Haram itself.  The 30-minute documentary can be viewed on the PBS Frontline website, and it provides video documenting what many have been alleging about the torture and murders of hundreds of civilians who are not proven Boko Haram members by the Nigerian Government’s military.

The New York Times summarized the Hunting Boko Haram piece:

Boko Haram, the radical Islamist group, has wreaked havoc on parts of Nigeria, most infamously by kidnapping scores of girls, an act that has brought worldwide outrage.

But Evan Williams, the producer and reporter of the segment, has secured a series of hard-to-watch videos that indicate that the hunt for Boko Haram has resulted in its own atrocities, apparently committed by the military and government-sponsored militias doing the hunting.

The videos show beatings and executions of people accused — often, Mr. Williams reports, without merit — of belonging to Boko Haram. The brutality, some witnesses say, has actually driven people to align with Boko Haram to escape these supposed saviors.

“Hunting Boko Haram” is produced by Evan Williams forWGBH/Frontline in association with Channel 4. Produced and reported by Mr. Williams; Frank Koughan and Mr. Edge, senior producers.

The possible responses to the Ebola outbreak are at least knowable. What the world should do about the horrors in Nigeria is far less clear.”

The Frontline piece includes comments by former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell  (May 20, 2004 to November 1, 2007), who visited U.S. Africa Command to speak about the impacts of regional security in sub-Saharan Africa as part of the Commander’s Speaker Series at the U.S. Africa Command Event Center in Stuttgart, Germany, July 1. Listen to Campbell’s talk on the  AFRICOM website.  Previously, Campbell wrote a critique of Nigeria and an interpretation of Boko Haram in a book,  Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink (2010). Read Uche Igwe’s recent interesting resaponse to Campbell in “Was John Campbell right about Nigeria?” in Punch May 14, 2014.

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David Wiley is Professor Emeritus of Sociology and African Studies at Michigan State University (MSU). He served as director of the African Studies Centers at MSU (1978-2008) and University of Wisconsin-Madison (1972-77). He has worked in Rhodesia and, with research on urban and rural environments, in Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa and participated in the struggles for democracy and majority rule in Southern Africa. He has been President of the national African Studies Association; Vice-Chairperson of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO; and co-chair and co-founder of the Council of National Title VI Centers and the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. He is a member of the U.S. Africa Network and has chaired international committees of the National Science Foundation, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Sociological Association. His recent research concerns environmental issues in South Africa, militarism in Africa, and international education in U.S. universities.