Amnesty International on Monday called on the Nigerian government to immediately publish the report submitted by a presidential panel which investigated alleged human rights violations by the Nigerian armed forces.
The seven-member judicial commission was raised in August 2017 by then-Acting President Yemi Osinbajo while President Muhammadu Buhari was on a lengthy vacation for an undisclosed ailment in London.
The panel, led by Biobele Georgewill of the Court of Appeal, submitted its report in February 2018, but nothing has been heard from the Buhari administration on the matter ever since, a situation which Amnesty and other foremost rights group find disturbing.
“When the panel finally commenced a year ago, many Nigerians took the brave step to testify, driven by their yearning for the truth to come out,” Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria lead, said in a statement Tuesday morning. “Their efforts must not be in vain. It is time the victims see the result of the investigations.”
At the time the panel was set up, the military was facing numerous allegations of gruesome rights abuses, including thw Zaria massacre of over 300 Shi’ite protesters in 2015, the extra-judicial killing of dozens of pro-Biafra protesters in the South-east and the crude treatment of Boko Haram suspects in the North-east.
The military has always maintained its personnel were professional and complied with extant rules of engagement, and also regularly set up own panels to probe some claims. Such panels frequently cleared it of any wrongdoing.
Between September 11 and November 8, 2017, judicial panel members sat in Abuja, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna and Lagos within its 90-day deadline, during which they alleged often worrisome accounts of victims and witnesses, including extra-judicial executions, torture, rape, enforced disappearances and the burning down of villages by military personnel.
“The government must make good on its promise and show its commitment to transparency and accountability by publishing the report and publicly revealing how they will ensure justice for the victims,” Ms Ojigho added. “Far too many previous investigative panels and inquiries set up by the government in the past ended nowhere, with no reports published to the public and little evidence of action taken by the government.”
Wale Fapohunda, Hauwa Ibrahim, Jibrin Ibrahim, Ifeoma Nwakama, and a representative of the Office of the National Security Adviser also served on the panel.
Amnesty International appeared before them in October 2017 and submitted a memorandum outlining the findings of its years of research relevant to the inquiry.