Human Rights group, Amnesty International (AI), has condemned the reinstatement of a former commander of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Ahmadu Mohammed, who the organization accused of possible war crimes following the alleged execution of suspected Boko Haram detainees in Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri, Borno State.
Amnesty implicated Mr. Mohammed, a Major General, alongside other serving and retired military chiefs for possible war crimes following the alleged torture and extra-judicial killings of more than 8,000 suspected Boko Haram detainees.
Mr. Mohammed was specifically accused of overseeing the killing of 640 detainees at Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri, Borno State on March 14, 2014 after the Barracks’s detention centre was attacked by Boko Haram.
Mr Mohammed was retired in 2014 after a mutiny by soldiers who accused him of knowingly leading them into a Boko Haram ambush around Chibok on May 12, 2014.
More than 70 soldiers were killed in the ambush. Mr Mohammed, whose vehicle was shot at by the angry soldiers during the mutiny, has been quietly reinstated after he allegedly wrote several letters to the army authorities asking to be recalled.
In a statement Monday, Amnesty International described the reinstatement of Mr Mohammed as a “monumental failure of the government to stamp out impunity for wars crimes at the highest level.”
“Major General Mohammed must be investigated for participating in, sanctioning or failing to prevent the deaths of hundreds of people,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
“Young men and boys, rounded up by the military, were either shot, starved, suffocated or tortured to death and no one has yet been held to account. It is unthinkable that Major General Muhammed could resume command of troops before an investigation has even begun,” Mr. Shetty added.
According to the statement, the report that implicated Mr Mohammed, “Stars on their shoulders, blood on their hands: War crimes committed by the Nigerian military,” was based on years of research and analysis of evidence, which included leaked military reports and correspondence as well as interview of some 400 victims, witnesses and top military officers.
AI stated that the report “exposed a range of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity committed by the military in the course of operations against Boko Haram.
It found that, since March 2011, more than 7,000 were starved, suffocated, and tortured to death in military detention camps. A further 1,200 were rounded up and unlawfully killed.”
The organisation also stated that the recall of Mr Mohammed flew in the face of assurances by President Muhammadu Buhari that allegations of human rights abuses against the military would be investigated and those found culpable brought to book.
“Hours after the publication of the report on 3 June, President Buhari responded personally on Twitter to say: “I assure you that your report will be looked into…This administration will leave no stone unturned to promote the rule of law, and deal with all cases of human rights abuses.
“Likewise the President announced on 12 June 2015 that investigating criminal responsibility for the violations documented in Amnesty International’s report would be the first task of the Attorney General. This investigation is yet to begin.”
Mr Shetty called on Mr Buhari to honour this pledge and make sure those implicated were investigated and made to account for their actions.
“Seven months after the publication of these horrific discoveries and the President’s pledge that they will be looked into, we continue to call for urgent independent investigations to begin.
“Those responsible for the crimes detailed in Amnesty International’s report must be held to account, no matter their rank or position. Only then can there be justice for the dead and their relatives,” said Mr. Shetty.