The Nigerian Army on Wednesday made public the findings of a Special Board it set up to investigate alleged human rights abuse levelled against its personnel by Amnesty International, AI.
The findings were presented by Nuhu Angbazo, ta major general, who is the Chief of Military/Civil Affairs at a news conference in Abuja.
The nine-member board headed by A.T. Jibril, a retired major general, was inaugurated by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a lieutenant general, on March 8.
AI had accused the army of human rights abuse, excessive use of force and
extra-judicial killing of terrorists in the North-East and members of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in the South-East.
Although the board did not find the army culpable of the accusations, it noted that the Boko Haram terrorists, for instance, were not allowed access to legal representation.
It noted that “the right to counsel is fundamental to basic fairness that should be recognised even with respect to terrorism cases.
“The board found that the process determining the legal status of Boko Haram detainees in all military detention facilities appear to have been left to the Nigerian Army alone.
“We note in particular the difficulty encountered by the Nigerian Army in transferring detainees in Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri detention facility to the Maiduguri maximum prisons to ease congestion in the facility.
“The board found that a common feature in all the detention facilities visited was the delay in the legal processing and trial of Boko Haram detainees.”
The board also indicated in the findings that some of the terrorist detainees, at the time of the arrest, were “malnourished and in poor state.”
“This could be misconstrued as evidence of deliberate starvation.”
On the alleged killing of members of IPOB and their subsequent alleged burial in a shallow pit, the board in its finding did not find the army wanting.
It stated that “the board interacted with the Anambra Governor, Commissioner of Police, State Director, DSS and some residents.
“They testified that no one was killed during the incident (IPOB protest) at Onitsha bridgehead but police report showed that 14 people were arrested on the day – May 29, 2016.
“The board received the names and contact details of the five ring leaders of the protest who were arrested and handed over to the police on that day,’’ the report said.
On the allegation of war crimes against some senior officers, the board found nothing incriminating against them.
They include retired major generals John Ewansiha, O.T. Ethan, A, Mohammed, A.O. Edokpayi and R.O. Bamigboye, a brigadier general.
According to Mr. Angbazo, the board recommended quarterly high-level meeting on access to justice for insurgents for the purpose of creating a platform for enhance better collaboration between Federal Ministry of Justice and security authorities.