The Nigerian Army on Wednesday set up a seven-member “Special Board of Inquiry’’ to probe alleged cases of human rights abuse level against its personnel in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the board, inaugurated by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a lieutenant general, would be headed by Ahmed Jibrin, a retired major general.
Other members are Dadan Garba and Abdulqadir Gumi (both retired brigadiers general); O.L. Olayinka, a brigadier general; L.B. Mohammed and U.M. Wambai (both colonels); while C.M. Akaliro, a lieutenant colonel, would serve as secretary.
Mr. Buratai said that in spite of the success recorded by troops in the ongoing counter-terrorism operations in the North East, some individuals and organisations had expressed concerns.
He explained that the individuals and organisations alleged cases of misconduct and human rights abuses by personnel of the army, “especially in the early days of the counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations.”
The army boss said “notably, the Amnesty International reports, Indigenous
People of Biafra (IPOB), other groups and individuals have made allegations of human rights violation of arrested Boko Haram terrorists against some of our senior officers and commanders.’’
He said based on those allegations, some officers were already suffering discrimination in some quarters.
“The allegations range from extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and enforced disappearance of suspected Boko Haram terrorists.
“These allegations are not good for civil-military relations and are capable of demoralising Nigerian army personnel in the performance of their constitutional roles.”
According to him, it is expedient to thoroughly and impartially investigate the allegations in order to find out the facts of the matter to enable relevant authorities to take appropriate actions.
He said the board was, therefore, set up to investigate the matter and establish the true situation of the whole allegations.
The chief of army staff said that the board was set up in line with the provision of Section 172(1) of the Armed Forces Act CAP A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Mr. Buratai, however, called on the board not to probe or revisit cases of abuse that had been investigated by state governments or the National Human Rights Commission.
He also urged members of the board to justify the confidence reposed in them as they were selected based on competence and merit to serve.
“I implore you to leave no stone unturned to come up with a report that will elucidate the facts to all and assist the Nigerian army in taking appropriate actions,” he said.
Mr. Jibrin, the head of the board, assured that members would do an objective job.
He said “we will travel to all the necessary places; we will also invite and interview all stakeholders to ensure that we get to the root of the matter.
“The allegations are many and the places to go are also many, people to talk with also are many but we will do everything possible to ensure that we finish our task as quickly as possible.
“We will be objective in all that we would do to ensure that we produce a credible report that would make the army headquarters proud because the allegations are not against retired officers but serving officers who were doing very important job for the country.
“So, it is very important our report is objective.”