Published on Aug 11, 2017 Greenbarge Reporters
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has assured the Nigerian Army that the idea of probing the human rights violation leveled against its officers fighting Boko Haram war in the North East is not to witch-hunt them but to clear them from such allegation.
Inaugurating the panel, headed by Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Biobele George, the acting President praised the gallantry of the soldiers in the Boko Haram war-front, adding however that the probe would be in their own interest as the allegation of violation of human rights had taken international dimension.
“I would like to use this opportunity to assure the Armed Forces and all of our uniformed forces, that exercises such as this should be regular and would be regular, and must not be seen as a witch hunt and in any way to denigrate the very great work that the Armed Forces and uniformed forces are doing all over the country.”
Professor Osinbajo recalled a series of allegations that had been levelled against security forces by some local and international commentators, saying: “it is our belief that if left unaddressed, these allegations are capable of undermining the good work of the men and women of the Armed Forces who have largely conducted themselves in a disciplined and professional manner.
“Failure to examine some of these allegations will also leave those who may have been victims of such abuses without any recourse to justice.”
He made reference to history, which he said, had reinforced the fact that the failure of the nation’s justice system to adequately respond to crisis had been a recipe for greater conflict.
“It is in the light of the following that I have mandated the panel to focus on the following terms of reference:
· One, to review extant rules of engagement applicable to the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the extent of compliance thereto.
· Two, to investigate alleged acts of violation of international humanitarian and human rights law under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the Geneva Conventions Act, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Ratification and Enforcement Act and other relevant laws by the Armed Forces in local conflicts and insurgencies.
· Three, to investigate matters of conducts and discipline in the Armed Forces in local conflicts and insurgencies; to recommend means of preventing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in conflict situations.
· Four, to make further recommendations in line with these terms of reference as may be deemed necessary.”
The acting President contended that it is the responsibility of the Armed Forces and all of those in government to ensure that they interrogate their own activities to meet up with human rights norms and basic rules of decency observed across the world.
Other members of the panel are
a. Major-General Patrick Akem;
b. Mr. Wale Fapohunda;
c. Mrs. Hauwa Ibrahim;
d. Mr. Jibrin Ibrahim;
e. Mr. Abba Ambudashi Ibrahim;
f. Mrs. Ifeoma Nwakama; and
g. Dr. Fatima Alkali to serve as counsel to the Panel.
The Panel also has a secretary from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
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