Amnesty International, human rights watchdogs, has said hundreds of people are being held in secret detention across Nigeria.
In a statement issued to mark the international day of the disappeared, the organisation said enforced disappearances were being used to instil fear into civilian population living in areas of the country wracked with conflict and insecurity.
“The organisation fears that hundreds of people are being held in secret detention – a conduct prohibited under the international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance, to which Nigeria is a state party – across the country by the Nigerian authorities and calls on the government to release details on the fate and whereabouts of all those who have been disappeared,” it said.
According to Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International, Nigeria, many families of the victims of enforced disappearance spend painful years searching for justice, truth and reparation but are ignored or misled about the fate of their relatives.
“The authorities must do the right thing now, by releasing all of them or disclosing information about their fate or whereabouts,” he said.
The human rights watchdog said most enforced disappearances take place in the conflict-ridden north-east of Nigeria “where young men are often seized by the military after being accused of affiliation to the armed group Boko Haram”.
“The organisation obtained details of men, women and children victims of enforced disappearance in other parts of Nigeria,” it said.
“According to figures provided by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria at least 600 of their members’ whereabouts is not known since the clashes with the military in December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna state. More than 350 people are believed to have been unlawfully killed by the military between 12 and 14 December 2015.”
Amnesty International said families of some of the victims told the organisation about their painful ordeal of years in search for justice.
It said one Malama Zainab Isa disclosed that her husband Abdullahi Abbas and their six children’s whereabouts or fate is not known since the night of December 14, 2015, following the clashes in Zaria.
“He sells books at the Husainiyyah where the clashes took place. All six of our children were with him that day. Up to now we don’t know their fate. We don’t know whether the seven (7) of them are alive or dead and no one is giving us any information that can ease our pain,” she was quoted to have said.