The Nigerian Army has said that 350 suspected Boko Haram terrorists have been recommended for trial at a Federal Court for terrorist activities in the North Eastern part of Nigeria.
Speaking at a press briefing Friday, the Nigerian Army Chief of Administration, Adamu Abubakar, said the 350 suspects are a fraction of 504 persons in detention.
He said two Joint Investigation Teams, set up by the defence headquarters to investigate, screen and categorize suspected insurgents in detention established prima facie cases against 350 out 504 suspects in detention.
The file cases on the suspects, Mr. Abubakar, a major general, said were forwarded to the office of the attorney general and the ministry of justice.
Speaking on the recent allegations against the military in a report by human rights organisation, Amnesty International, Mr. Abubakar said the report is unnecessary as no new facts have been unearthed by the group to warrant a repeat of its allegations.
He said, “For the avoidance of doubts, the Amnesty International allegations of human rights abuse and extra judicial killing of civilians are a rehash of the same allegations made in 2011”.
Mr. Abubakar said the only new claim in the AI’s recent report is the increase in the number of alleged victims of extra judicial killings from 4,600 to 13, 000.
He said the military has the constitutional rights to protect Nigerians and cannot engage in mass killings as portrayed by AI in its June 3 report.
The international human rights’ organisation had accused top officers of the Nigerian military including the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff and nine other senior officers of war crimes.
AI’s report listed horrific war crimes committed by Nigeria’s military including 8,000 people murdered, starved, suffocated, and tortured to death. It recommended that the new government work towards ensuring the protection of civilians and bring to an end the culture of impunity within the Nigerian armed forces.
Mr. Abubakar said the military had informed Amnesty International of an ongoing investigation over its allegation upon request for comment.
While some of the preliminary reports had led to the release of under aged detainees, women and children from the military holding facilities, he added that some of the investigations could not be concluded as a result of inaccessibility of the terrain due to terrorist’s activities.
The Major general said, “Sequel to the report of the investigation panel, 42 detainees were handed over to Borno State government on Thursday, November 6, 2014 and another set of 124 persons were also handed to the state government on November 8.
“Additionally, code of conduct of troops and other internal operation and rules of engagement clearly spelt out guideline for troops. Therefore the Nigerian military does not in any way condone indiscipline or breach of such regulations, let alone wanton killing or destruction,” Mr. Abubakar said.
He said the military had also requested that Amnesty International provide one of its members for the investigation panel to look into the allegations but the invitation was never honoured.
“The military is still conducting investigations on Amnesty International’s allegations. In the course of the forensic investigations, the withdrawal of troops from the frontline for investigation tends to dampen the morale of soldiers and distract ongoing operations against insurgents. This is one reason why the understanding of Amnesty International would be worth the while,” he said.
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