Nigerian military leaders had advance knowledge of Islamist militant group Boko Haram’s planned attacks on Baga and Monguno but didn't take sufficient action, human rights group Amnesty International said Wednesday. Soldiers in Baga purportedly warned Nigeria’s military of increased hostile action in advance of a Jan. 3 attack that may have killed as many as 2,000 people in northeast Nigeria.
“It is clear from this evidence that Nigeria’s military leadership woefully and repeatedly failed in their duty to protect civilians of Baga and Monguno despite repeated warnings about an impending threat posed by Boko Haram,” Amnesty International’s Africa director Netsanet Belay said in a statement. These attacks are an urgent wake-up call for the Nigerian leadership, the African Union and the international community.”
Baga’s Multinational Joint Task Force warned Nigerian leaders of an impending attack as early as November and December of last year, a source within the military told Amnesty. Boko Haram purportedly warned Baga’s villagers that they planned to attack the area in the near future, prompting hundreds of residents to flee. Despite these warning, the Nigerian military failed to act on multiple requests for reinforcements.
Boko Haram also warned villagers that its “next target was Monguno,” a town with large military barracks that serves as a key line of defense for the neighboring city of Maiduguri. The militant group seized Monguno and its barracks on Jan. 25, CNN reported.
“There was a warning,” a Monguno resident told Amnesty. “Everyone was aware. Boko Haram came on Wednesday last week [Jan. 21] and asked the villagers [in neighboring Ngurno] to leave because they are coming to attack the barracks. The villagers told the soldiers.”
Nigeria military spokesman Gen. Chris Olukolade described Amnesty International’s report as “inaccurate and unfair.” “The misleading conclusions by Amnesty International could have been avoided if they had made meaningful efforts to verify the inciting allegations,” Olukolade said, according to Agence France-Presse.
Authorities accuse Boko Haram of killing more than 13,000 since the group’s military campaign to carve out an Islamist state within Nigeria began in 2009. Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck has asked foreign nations to contribute $1 billion to re-equip the nation’s poorly funded military.