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Amnesty International Uncooperative, Nigerian Army Says
By Samuel Malik
The Nigerian army has accused Amnesty International of a lack of cooperation in investigating allegations raised by the human rights watchdog, saying it has consistently refused “invitation” to be part of the army investigation.
The army spoke through its Chief of Administration, Major General Adamu Baba Abubakar , who, on Friday addressed a press conference in Abuja to respond to AI’s June 3, 2015 report that indicted some members of the military hierarchy.
According to Abubakar, the military decided to invite Amnesty International to be part of its panel of investigation in order to ensure fairness and show that it has nothing to hide, but the invitation was not honoured.
“The military requested Amnesty International to provide a member for the investigation panel to look into the allegations but the invitation was not honoured by Amnesty International. The essence of offering Amnesty International membership of the investigation panel was to guarantee fairness and justice while proving to the world that the military has nothing to hide or cover up.
“The Nigerian Military has also allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit the detainees and other locations at the shortest notice without hindrance and even talk to the detainees and locals. Certainly if the Nigerian Military has or had any reason to hide anything it could not have allowed International Committee of the Red Cross access to its facilities and operational area,” Abubakar stated, adding that most of the allegations raised in this year’s report were a repetition from previous report.
The army chief said the military does not condone abuses of human rights and explained that following Amnesty’s previous allegations, the military took decisive steps to address them, including releasing detainees and giving them N100, 000 stipend each to start life.
“Sequel to the report of the investigation panel, 42 detainees were handed over to Borno State government on Thursday 6th November 2014 and another set of 124 persons were also handed over to the state Government on 8th November 2014 respectively,” he explained.
Explaining further how the military responds to allegations of atrocities, Abubakar said the military code of conduct is meant to guide troops in the battle field and that trainings are organised for troops to understand how to deal with situations. He also said investigative panels are set up with recommendations implemented.
“Some investigations have turned in their preliminary reports, which have been acted upon. Some of the investigations could not be concluded due to the inaccessibility of the terrain due to the activities of Boko Haram terrorists,” Abubakar stated.
“Similarly the Defence Headquarters set up 2 Joint Investigation Teams (JIT) to investigate, screen and categorize suspected insurgents in detention. Out of the 504 suspects screened prima facie cases was established against 350 suspects and were recommended for trial the Federal High Court, their case files were forwarded to the office of the attorney- general and ministry of justice.
“Additionally, Code of Conduct for troops in the North East and other Internal Operations and Rules of Engagement clearly spelt out guidelines for troops. Therefore the Nigerian Military does not in any way condone indiscipline or breach of such regulations, let alone wanton killing or destruction. The Nigerian Military collaborate with the International Committee of the Red Cross on training of personnel on laws of armed conflict and humanitarian law regularly.”