…push for adequate protection of women, girls in IDP camps
By Gabriel Ewepu
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, the Country Director, Global Rights Nigeria, Abiodun Baiyewu-Teru, described the act as war crime, therefore condemning 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 the 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. Rape is a crime and as a matter of fact, is also recognised 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 to 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. Impunity will tarnish the image of the Nigerian army and the country.
“Another issue is the disappearance of men who are husbands, brothers and sons from communities, taken away by the Nigerian Army. 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, who may have died in detention or have been released from detention, and possibly their families don’t know where they are.
It is the duty of the Nigerian government to call itself to account and be accountable to the people so we will not embarrass ourselves any further as a country.”
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 organisation.
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 that the women are in need of psycho-social support.
“The major issue is that 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, Onianwa 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 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 a thing as rape happen? Is it 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.
“No soldier is above the law,” he said.