AMNESTY International, a global human rights non-governmental organization, wants the Nigerian government to publish the report submitted by the Presidential Investigative Panel which probed the level of compliance of members of the Armed Forces with human rights obligations and their rules of engagement.
September 11, 2018 makes it a year after the panel commenced its work. It has since concluded its investigations and submitted its findings to the presidency in February this year, but since then, no word has been heard from the government, neither has any action been taken to address the plight of the victims whose rights were violated.
In a statement on Tuesday, Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, said government’s continued silence and inaction “is an appalling affront to victims who are still waiting for justice”.
“Nigerians have been waiting for the full report and fulfillment of the promise made by President (Muhammadu) Buhari in June 2015 to end impunity and ensure justice for the victims of crimes under international law committed by the armed forces,” the statement, signed by Isa Sanusi, AI’s Media Manager, read in part.
“When the (investigative) panel finally commenced a year ago, many Nigerians took the brave step to testify, driven by their yearning for the truth to come out. Their efforts must not be in vain.”
Ojigho stressed that it is important that the government should publish the report of the probe panel, as well as tell Nigerians how it intends to ensure the victims get justice, as this would be a concrete proof of its commitment to transparency and accountability.
“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,” she stated.
Recall that the investigative panel was set up in August 2017, by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who, at the time, was acting on behalf of President Buhari. This was following several reports of human rights violations by personnel of the Nigerian military.
The panel conducted sittings in various cities across the country, including Abuja, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna and Lagos, during which victims and witnesses narrated several acts of rights violations by security operatives, ranging from illegal detentions, torture and rape, to enforced disappearances and extra-judicial executions.
Amnesty International said it also appeared before the panel in October 2017 and submitted a memorandum outlining the findings of years of research relevant to the investigations.
The group, therefore, wants the government to set up impartial and independent investigations into the allegations, and that all findings be made public.