Governments are “constitutionally and morally” bound to respect the lives of the citizens at all times, acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, has said.
Mr. Osinbajo stated this on Friday in Abuja as he inaugurated a seven-member Judicial Commission to review the compliance of the Nigerian Armed Forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement, especially in local conflict and insurgency situations.
The commission is headed by Justice Biobele Georgewill of the Port Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal.
The acting president said the Buhari Administration was committed to addressing all cases of extra-judicial killings, sexual offences and all other forms of abuses in Nigeria.
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had asked the Nigerian Armed Forces in 2015 to set up an Internal Board of Inquiry and said the report of the inquiry would be passed on to the panel.
He described members of the Nigerian military as heroes who have been combating insurgency with success and who must be commended.
He however noted that the tactic of asymmetrical warfare being used by insurgents pose a challenge for the military, resulting in allegations that some soldiers have at certain times committed abuses.
Mr. Osinbajo said it was important to look into those allegations to avoid doubts being cast on the the hard-earned integrity of the Nigerian military.
He expressed belief in the quality of the panel and his full confidence that it would thoroughly investigate and report on all allegations brought to its attention.
The acting president said the armed forces should rest reassured that there is no witch-hunt against them and that it is in the interest of all that justice is done.
Responding on behalf of the panel, the chairman, Justice Georgewill, pledged that it would carry out the assignment “with the fear of God and with integrity to ensure that justice will not only be done to all but would be seen by all to have been done.”
He called on all persons and or institutions affected or interested in one way or the other in any of the elaborate terms of reference given to the panel to seize the opportunity to present their grievances or cases or allegations and or defences, to enable the panel carry out very thorough review and investigations, in line with its mandate. PANEL.
He assured that all the report of the panel would be based on facts based on verifiable evidence.
Members of the panel include Patrick Akem a retired major-general, Chief of Logistics, and commander of the UN forces in Somalia; Olawale Fapohunda, a former Attorney-General of Ekiti State; and Jibrin Ibrahim, a professor,civil society leader and noted academic.
The others are Ifeoma Nwakama of Human Rights Commission; Abba Ambudashi of the Office of the National Security Adviser; Hauwa Ibrahim, a professor; Fatima Alkali, who is counsel to the Panel; and Suleima Haliru, who is the Secretary.