By Miriam Suleiman and Tina Ohanu
“In order for the government to get authentic information on this incident other investigative bodies should be involved.”
Civil rights activists have called for an independent investigation into video reports that Nigerian soldiers extra-judicially murdered Boko Haram suspects.
The video, which was released by Amnesty International on Monday, contained scenes where the throats of the suspected insurgents were slit, amongst other questionable acts. The bodies of the killed men were dumped into a mass grave.
The soldiers in the video were aided by persons suspected to be members of the government sponsored militia commonly known as Civilian JTF.
Amnesty said it got the footage, which may be evidence of war crimes committed by the Nigerian military, from numerous sources during a trip to Borno State.
The Nigerian military has responded to the video by saying it would conduct an investigation to verify that it was indeed soldiers that carried out the act.
Human rights and civil society activists, however, call for an independent investigation into the allegations.
“It is unfair for a man to investigate himself. In order for the government to get authentic information on this incident other investigative bodies should be involved,” Charles Musa, a lawyer said.
He pointed out that that even the police might not yield good information due to fact that they work for the government. He suggested that international bodies should be involved to get factual result.
Another civil society activist, Auwal Rafsanjani, also told PREMIUM TIMES that the acts depicted in the video were not new in Nigeria.
“The military has constantly involved themselves in the brutality of human rights. Many civilians especially in the North have witnessed the killing of innocent lives and also the military have used the insurgency as an excuse to commit numerous atrocities,” he said.
Mr. Rafsanjani said that giving the military a freehand in investigating the incident would only help in exonerating them. He also suggested that for Nigeria to completely eradicate such abuses, international organisations should be involved in the investigation.
Debo Adeniran said investigating the situation should not be single handedly carried out by the Nigerian military as it could not be trusted.
Mr. Adeniran, the head of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, said in such a situation, transparency was required and as such, other international investigative bodies like the Amnesty International could also work on the case.
Another activist, Jiti Ogunye, said it was in the interest of the Nigerian military to come clean by submitting to an independent enquiry, especially by non-governmental investigative bodies, whether locally or internationally.
Mr. Ogunye, a lawyer, said it was in the interest of the military to verify the credibility of the footage and to identify the perpetrators involved if confirmed.
He decried the killings, saying that they were unacceptable even in the situation of war.
“The act of genocide on people, even if they are regarded as enemy combatant, is condemnable,” he said. “Once they are not killed in action or once they have surrendered and are taken into custody, they are not to be eliminated with impunity.”