ABUJA : Nigerian security forces have committed human rights abuses as they fight a near five year insurgency by the Boko Haram sect, a UN official said on Friday.
Boko Haram has killed thousands in its effort to carve out an Islamic state in a religiously mixed country of around 170 million people. Rights groups say the military carries out extra-judicial killings, torture and illegally detains suspects.
“Many people I have met with during this visit openly acknowledge human rights violations have been committed by the security forces,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, told reporters in Abuja.
“These have served to alienate communities, and create fertile ground for Boko Haram to cultivate new recruits,” she added.
Rights bodies and other groups have often accused security forces of human rights violations in their campaign to battle the insurgency which has claimed thousands of lives since 2009.
She said she would encourage Nigeria to take concrete steps to abolishing the death penalty by reducing the number of crimes punishable by it.
In response, Justice Minister Mohammed Bello Adoke said “the focus of the (anti-gay) Act is therefore discouragement of same-sex marriage which is a reflection of the overwhelming beliefs and cultural values of the Nigerian people”.