The group said this on Thursday, listing widespread poverty, corruption, police abuse and impunity as causes of crises in the country, creating a fertile ground for militancy.
The African Director of Human Rights Watch, Mr Daniel Bekele, made this known at the launching of a report in Lagos on Thursday, urging the government to bring to justice the Boko Haram suspects.
The 98-page report, entitled, ‘Spiraling Violence: Boko Haram attacks and security force abuses in Nigeria,’ indicted armed forces, which, it claimed, engaged in numerous abuses, including extra-judicial killings.
It also made a list of atrocities for which the Boko Haram sect had claimed responsibility, just as it explored the role of the armed forces, which alleged abuses contravened international human rights law and might also constitute crimes against humanity.
“The unlawful killing by both the Boko Haram sect and armed forces only grows worse. Both sides need to halt this downward spiral,” Bekele said.
According to the group, the report was based on a field research conducted between July 2010 and July 2012, and continuous monitoring of media reports of the Boko Haram attacks and statements since 2009.
It said that its researchers interviewed 135 people, including 91 witnesses and victims of the Boko Haram violence or armed forces abuses, as well as lawyers, civil society leaders, government officials, senior military and police personnel.
The group said in the first nine months of 2012 alone, more than 815 people died in some 275 suspected attacks by the group – more than in all of 2010 and 2011 attacks combined.
HRW lamented that five days of clashes between the group and armed forces left more than 800 people dead in July 2009 and precipitated further violence.
It recalled that security personnel, in 2009, arrested and allegedly executed the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, with at least several dozens of his followers in Maiduguri, adding that, “when the group reemerged in 2010, under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau, Yusuf’s former deputy, it vowed to avenge the killings of its members.”
The rights group, quoting media reports in Nigeria, said at least 211 policemen had been killed in the attacks.
The group urged the Federal Government to take urgent measures to address the human rights abuses that had fuelled militancy in the country.