By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Amnesty International, AI, and Concerned Nigerians, CN, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to constitute an investigative panel to look into alleged children and women detention camp in Maiduguri as reported by the Human Rights Watch, HRW.
Reacting to the report was the Chairman, Amnesty International, Ibrahim Rafsanjani, said the report by HRW should not be dismissed, but the Nigerian Army and government should take it seriously and constitute an investigative panel to probe those behind the alleged abuses of human rights, especially as it concerns children in the North East.
According to Rafsanjani government knows that there a lot of human right abuses and violations going on in Nigeria, and it has become necessary for the government to listen and take steps to deal with human right abuses rather than dismissing every credible allegation against the military or security agencies’ wrongdoings in the country.
According to the HRW’s report, children and women have been detained by the Nigerian Army at Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri, Borno State, over alleged involvement in Boko Haram activities, but have refused to show evidence to prove their alleged involvement, rather have subjected the detainees to inhuman treatment.
He said: “I think this allegation by Human Rights Watch against the detention of some children by the military at Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri I will rather advice the military or government not to dismiss the report but also have an open mind to investigate this credible allegation.
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“Government should set up a panel at least for once investigate and hear these complaints, but the government is always dismissing this and making it look as if some people are out there to create the wrong impression about human rights abuses in Nigeria.
“But dismissing it would close opportunity for the government if they are willing to deal with the issues of military accountability in terms of abuses and wrongdoings by some of the officials but if you just dismiss some of the report I think it will not go very well for the country.
“For me, I will strongly advice government to investigate the report by Human Right Watch and if it is true that some military officials are detaining children at the Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri then there is need to sanction those military officials who are grossly violating the rights of children.
“I think this help Nigeria to earn some respects rather than dismissing any report about wrongdoing in the country. I will advice the government to have a rethink on its strategy of dismissing every credible allegation.”
The Convener, Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, also speaking to Vanguard described the report as sad and damning said the military has no choice than to admit and do the needful and not to deny the allegations.
According to Adeyanju, it has become a normal thing for the military to always deny their deeds despite evidence to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubts.
He said: “I have read the report released by the Human Rights Watch and it is just so sad. It is unthinkable that despite all the reports the Nigerian Army, you will recall that in 2018, Amnesty International, wrote a damning report against rights abuses in the barracks including raping of women in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps. The army and other security agencies prosecuting the war are still yet to depart from this.
“Look at what is happening to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, even women and children are not spared. So one would not be surprised by the report of the Human Rights Watch, HRW, that children are being detained in Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri, and naturally, you expect the military to deny because they deny everything because they would not admit guilt.
“But look at how damning and detailed the report is. The truth stares at us in the face whether we like it or not and it is unfortunate that things like this continue to happen and they repeat themselves over and over and as if we never learned anything from them and it is unbelievable of some these things that go on.”
The human rights activist also advised that Nigerians to continue hold government accountable, demand that leaders do better including the military do better.
However, he called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack all service chiefs for not really doing what the constitution of the country mandates them to do in protecting lives and property.
“This is to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack all the service chiefs. They have outlived their usefulness, failed to secure lives and property of Nigerians.
“The constitution states that the primary responsibility of government is to protect lives and property, but these service chiefs have failed to protect the lives and property of the citizenry. Therefore they have no business to continue in office.
“Again coupled with all the right abuses the service chiefs must go. The President must do the right thing by sacking all the service chiefs. This is the irreducible minimum citizens will demand from their government and this is exactly what we are demanding for from President Muhammadu Buhari”, he said.