Nigeria: What exactly happened in Baga?
There is still much confusion in Nigeria as to what exactly happened in Baga in the north-east of the country.
There is no fixed death toll as yet, although some estimates suggest up to 200 people died in fierce clashes between Nigerian troops and Islamist militants. Were Nigerien, Cameroonian and Chadian troops also involved? President Goodluck Jonathan has promised a full investigation, looking in particular at how many civilians were killed as their buildings were destroyed.
The Nigeria Senate has described the killings as unacceptable and asked its committees on Defence, Police and National Security and Intelligence to investigate the incident within 14 days.
Elders from the North say they want a judicial enquiry, warning that the government, not for the first time, has used heavy-handed tactics in the name of fighting Islamists.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has deployed officials to assist in the provision of medical reliefs and aid to affected people.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated a 26-member Presidential Committee on Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges, looking to establish an amnesty arrangement for Boko Haram combatants.
“Without peace we cannot develop no matter how committed we are; without peace we cannot progress as a nation” Jonathan warned.
The president said the committee should establish a link and open up dialogue with members of Boko Haram and also outline a framework for their disarmament, while also establishing comprehensive support programme for the victims of the excesses of the group.
Jonathan acknowledged concerns about the military going in too hard and warned: “ the government will take steps to make sure that if errors were made, such people are cautioned and treated in line with our laws and regulations.’’
After the committe’s first meeting, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, Nigeria’s minister for special duties, said: “I think the first strategy is to open up a line of communication and I am sure there are a lot of links that we can work on,”
Meanwhile, Niger’s Minister of Defence Mahamadou Karidjo said on Wednesday that the Nigerian army had not participated in the recent clashes between Nigerian troops and Boko Haram Islamist fighters around Baga.
"Our amy has not participated in any military action in that area, it was only Nigerians. Boko Haram is not a direct threat to Niger. We leave Nigeria to take care of that”.