The Federal government has launched an investigation into reports alleging that government officials raped and sexually abused women and girls who survived Boko Haram violence.
The move comes after Human Rights Watch published a report detailing accounts by dozens of women and girls who said they were sexually abused or coerced into sex.
The women said they were raped or abused by camp leaders, vigilante group members, policemen and soldiers at camps in Borno State’s capital, Maiduguri. The camps were set up to offer aid to people displaced by fighting in Nigeria’s northeast.
Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has set up a special team “to immediately commence thorough Investigation into all cases of alleged sexual abuses, exploitation, harassments, gender-based violence and professional misconduct,” a statement from the inspector general’s office said Thursday.
Police: Security at camps to be beefed up
Some of the victims had escaped captivity by terror group Boko Haram, only to become victims at the camps where they sought refuge, the rights group said. Many of the women were impregnated by their abusers at the camps. Several victims were drugged before they were raped.
The inspector general called on HRW to make available to the investigation team any additional information about the 43 cases of abuse featured in the report that could assist the police inquiry.
He has taken measures to beef up security at the camps and said any acts that violate the human dignity of displaced people by individuals or groups in the camps or anywhere in the country will be handled in accordance with the law, according to the statement.
Borno State governor: ‘We must act now’
Following the HRW report, Borno State Gov. Kashim Shettima has revealed plans to request law enforcement agencies to deploy female and male undercover detectives to all camps for internally displaced people in Borno State “to spy on culprits and bring them to book,” according to a statement from his office.
“Sadly and very sadly indeed, the (Internally Displaced People) camps have become avenues that horrible stories of sexual slavery, prostitution rings, drug peddling and other social vices are emanating from,” the governor said.
“Sexual harassment of female IDPs is a desperate situation,” he said. “None of us would fold arms if his or her daughter is in position to be sexually harassed, so we must act now.”
Displaced by fighting
Dubbed the world’s deadliest terror group, Boko Haram has launched attacks in northern Nigeria and surrounding areas for years.
More than 20,000 people have been killed since 2009 when the conflict began. Nearly 2.5 million have been displaced.
Boko Haram, which in the local Hausa language means “western education is sin,” wants to institute a strict form of Sharia law in Nigeria.
Its mass abductions and attacks on soft targets, including schools, mosques and churches, have prompted stark international condemnation.