…ask for adequate protection of women, girls in IDP camps
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- CIVIL Society Organisations, CSOs, have tasked the Federal Government and Nigerian Army to swing into action and investigate its officers and men accused of raping women and girls in Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps, in Borno State, as reported by Amnesty International, AI recently.
Speaking over the alleged rape by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, the Country Director, Global Rights Nigeria, Abiodun Baiyewu-Teru, described the act as war crime, therefore condemned it and called on the Nigerian military authority to conduct thorough investigation and ensure those who committed the heinous crime were adequately punished.
Baiyewu-Teru also charged the federal government and military to show the world that they can clean and remove ‘bad eggs’ from the military in order to redeem the image of the country in the comity of nations.
The CSOs also demanded adequate protection of women and girls in IDP camps from such crimes, and also asked the women and girls to boldly report any case of sexual violence and other crimes against them to the appropriate authorities for justice to prevail.
She said: “It is unacceptable to us with the sexual misconduct in the IDP camp by some members of the Nigerian Army as reported by Amnesty International. Rape is a crime and as a matter of fact is also recognized as war crime and should be treated as such.
“The International Criminal Court is investigating what is going on in the North East region of the country, and I want the Nigerian Army should also conduct its own investigation and appropriately sanction erring officers. The entire Army cannot all be raping the women, officers that have should be punished. fails impunity will tarnish the image of the Nigerian army and the country.
“There are other issue which is disappearances of men who are husbands, brothers and sons were missing from communities, they were taken away by the Nigerian Army should be accounted for the missing and the dead. It is also one obligation of Non-International Arm Conflict in the Geneva Protocol which the Nigerian Army is bound to adhere to. It is very important for them to account for every single person in detention, may have died in detention or have been released from detention, and possibly their families don’t know where they are.
It is also very important and is the duty of the Nigerian government, and must call itself to account and be accountable to the people so we will not embarrass ourselves any further as country.”
She maintained that the army should get rid of such an image before the world. She acknowledged that the army has set up a human rights desk where people can freely go to complain and report issues of human rights abuses by officers and men of the organization.
In terms of the rules of engagement the Global Rights Nigeria boss made it clear that she is not asserting they have failed in the rules of engagement but in this particular issue of rape based on her interaction with the women in those IDP camps in Bama Hospital and Bama town, where the rapes occurred.
On compensation for the women who were victims she said the major issue is the women are in need of psycho-social support.
“The major issue is that the women need psycho-social support and sexual violence is seismic, and no amount of money you give to a rape victim will ever compensate for the indignity and degrading treatment they have gone through.
“However, just to show the commitment of the government in ensuring that they are fairly treated they should be offered compensation”, she added.
In the same vein, the Country Director, Nation First Foundation, NFF, Oniawan Elidad, said the Nigerian Army should not take the report of Amnesty International lightly by ensuring it also do in-house investigation to fish out the perpetrators.
“We are pained by the report released by Amnesty International over the rape carried out by the Nigerian Army in Bama IDP camps.
“We want the Nigerian Army to do its own part of the investigation to weed out those of them who have engaged in this act of rape and ensure they are dealt with. We in Nation First Foundation want to state that the gory tales in the IDP camps are belittling the image of Nigeria abroad and that is not good at all.
“Why should such things happen like rape? Is that these women cannot be seen as mothers, wives and sisters or Nigerians anymore that some army personnel will be maltreating them? It is uncalled for.
“The investigation will go a long way to purge the military and restore its image and that of Nigeria in the international community. This move should not be delayed because is a human right abuse and no soldier is above the law”, he said.