Army keeps mum
Show us evidence —Junaid Mohammed
By Gbenga Oke
THE Amnesty International has accused the Federal Government of unlawful killings, torture and detention in the last 12 months.
Enumerating a litany of mishaps it encapsulated in 15 human rights issues in Nigeria, the London-based non-governmental organisation, in its 2017/2018 annual report also lamented that inter-communal violence linked to lingering clashes between herdsmen and farming communities resulted in more than 549 deaths and displacement of thousands in 12 states.
It reported that “Boko Haram carried out at least 65 attacks, causing 411 civilian deaths, and abducted at least 73 people. Sixteen women, including 10 policewomen, were abducted in June when Boko Haram ambushed an army-escorted convoy on the Maiduguri-Damboa road.
‘’In July, Boko Haram ambushed a team of oil prospectors in a village in Magumeri. Three oil workers were abducted and at least 40 other people were killed, including soldiers and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force.
“On 6 May, 82 Chibok schoolgirls, abducted in 2014, were released by Boko Haram fighters in an exchange deal; 113 girls remained in captivity. In November, six farmers in Dimge village in Mafa were abducted and beheaded.’’
Contacted, yesterday, the Nigeria Army declined comment on the allegations
Lack of accountability
It decried what it described as government’s lack of accountability on the issues, saying: “In June, the Special Board of Inquiry to investigate allegations of gross violations of human rights, established by Chief of Army Staff, found that Giwa barracks was extremely overcrowded, with poor sanitation and insufficient ventilation, factors, which resulted in detainees’ deaths. It cleared senior military officers, alleged to have committed crimes under international law, of wrongdoing.
Unlawful killings, torture, ill-treatment
According to the report, “at least 10 IPOB members were killed and 12 others wounded by soldiers in Umuahia, Abia State, September 14. The military claimed that they were killed when they tried to resist the arrest of leader, Nnamdi Kanu, at his home. Witnesses say that, in addition to those killed, at least 10 IPOB members were shot and taken away by soldiers. The government subsequently banned the IPOB.
“On March 9, a court in Abuja sentenced two police officers to death for their part in the extrajudicial execution of six traders in Apo, Abuja, in 2005. Three other police officers, including the leader of the police team were acquitted.
In 2005, a Judicial Commission of Inquiry had indicted six police officers for the murders and recommended their trial as well as compensation for the victims’ families. One of them allegedly escaped from custody in 2015.
In September, the High Court in Port Harcourt convicted five SARS policemen for the extrajudicial executions of Michael Akor and Michael Igwe in 2009. The court also awarded N50 million (USD143,000) in compensation to the victims’ families.
Show me evidence —Junaid Mohammed
Reacting to the report, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, asked Amnesty International to show evidence of its allegation to Nigerians.
“As far as I am concerned, I want to see evidence, which states how these unlawful killings took place. Even if such reports come from organisations like Oxfam, I would still love to see evidence before concluding. People cannot sit in London and New York and report what is going on especially in major parts of the North right now.