An investigation by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, The ICIR, published on Monday has accused a notorious military officer who was deployed to the North East to fight Boko Haram of several human rights crimes and violations.
The officer, identified by The ICIR as Cyril Ofurumzi, was popularly known in Maiduguri between 2012 and 2014 with the name Yellow.
The paper accused Yellow of both arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings.
The ICIR interviewed several members of Jire Dole, a pressure group set up by women whose children and spouses have been in detention in military facilities from 2011 to 2019 on allegations of being Boko Haram members or sympathizers.
Yellow’s alleged crimes were raised in some of the interviews, with some of the women accusing him of arbitrarily arresting their children and spouses, many of whom are yet to be released. Some of them could not tell the whereabouts of their spouses yet—whether alive or dead—the paper reported.
The ICIR interviewed many families in Maiduguri, and they all confirmed that several soldiers were involved in arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings of young men between 2011 and 2015, but the record of a particular army officer was legendary.
Colonel Cyril Ofurumazi
‘His name is Colonel Cyril Ofurumazi, though the locals know him as Yellow. He was the “most heartless and wicked soldiers”, the paper, quoting members of Jire Dole who came for a monthly meeting at the house of Hajia Hamsatu, said.
Often, he would lead his team to communities and indiscriminately arrest young boys and detain them at Giwa barracks, members of Jire Dole told The ICIR.
Until this report, many people in Maiduguri do not know Yellow’s real name. One of our editors who had covered the insurgency between 2011 and 2015 said Col. Cyril was named Yellow because of his fair complexion.
When ICIR showed the Jire Dole women a photograph of the colonel, they confirmed he was the man they knew as Yellow.
The report accused him of arresting not less than 300 men, many of whom were said to have disappeared.
The paper reported thus:
‘An intelligent officer in one of the security forces in Maiduguri confirmed the story of the women.
“The number of youths arrested by Yellow and his team alone could not be less than 300. And many of those young boys have disappeared till date. But the jailbreak removed the record so it is difficult to account for their death” the officer told The ICIR in confidence.
‘“All the ex-prisoners who reported or taken back to Giwa barrack by the Civilian JTF during the Giwa jailbreak were executed by Ofurumazi and his boys,” the intelligence officer said.
‘The officer further recalled how Ofurumazi in company of other soldiers stopped him while returning home from an assignment given to him by a top ranking military officer senior to the colonel.
‘“Despite identifying myself as a security officer, he ordered that I should lie down and threatened to execute me that night until his boss whom I was allowed to call ordered him to let me go. These soldiers placed no value on human lives,” said the intelligence officer.’
Other soldiers accused of such crimes in the report are Col. Ebola—whose real name was not known and Maj. Fambiya Amuda Fada, who was later killed in an operation in Gwoza.
The Jire Dole women are struggling for the release of their men who were rounded up and put to cells without trial.
The ICIR, quoting Amnesty International, said as of May 2018, about 4,900 men are still in the custody of the military at Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri.
READ FULL REPORT ON ICIR: Jire Dole: Agony of Borno women struggling to get justice for their missing men