OVER 3,000 women in Borno State whose husbands, sons went missing or arrested by the Nigerian military are calling for justice from the Federal Government and international bodies.
The women under the aegis of Jireh Dole, which means Truce is a Must, particularly demanded the prosecution of Col. Cyril Ofurumazi, top military personnel accused of human rights violation, and also responsible for extra-judicial killings in the state.
The women spread across Maiduguri Metropolitan Area Council condemned the arbitrary arrests and detentions of their husbands.
They shared accounts of their misery during a roundtable discussion organised by The ICIR and Ford Foundation about missing persons in the North-East. The event was organised to help the distressed women seek justice and identify actual where-about of their missing men.
“Let the government tell the world what he did. He should be prosecuted for what he has done,” says Comrade Hajiya Gana Suleiman, President of the women group.
“It’s too much. He killed so many children; he arrested many young men. I don’t know how to explain what this man has done to us.”
The ICIR had reported how the women, for years had struggled to get justice for their missing men.
The report also detailed the military’s affirmation of injustice perpetrated in the Northeast while fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.
“I want justice. Let government and security authorities tell us if our children are still alive or not.”
“My son has been arrested since 2011. I don’t know if he is still alive or not, so I’m still looking for my child.”
Suleiman said, mothers have wept uncontrollably for years for their missing children and they are tired of weeping. She also blamed the increasing rate of out-of-school children in the region on soldiers.
“Most of our grandchildren are no longer attending schools. Are we going to leave them like this, to grow up without education? In the future, what will they become?”
However, she expressed concerns about the future of the children stressing that when those children grow, they might decide to take revenge on their parents’ death, thus need for urgent government attention.
In his remarks, Ali Ndume, Chairman Senate Committee on Defence promised to follow up on the allegation and investigate the case against the accused personnel.
“I promised them I will find out what exactly is the case and let the public known,”
“So many soldiers have been court-martialed; so many persons have been prosecuted by the judiciary, so this one will not be different if he is guilty.”
Bill for missing person coming
Meanwhile, speaking during the plenary anchored by Abiodun Baiyewu, Executive Director of Global Rights and later, Idayat Hassan, Chairperson, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Senator Ali Ndume disclosed plans to propose a bill for an Act to establish an agency of government that would be responsible for rescuing missing persons.
Ndume who is the senator representing Borno South described it as a matter of national importance.
“As we leave here, we will do a motion; I’ll take a look at it and raise it on the floor of the House. I will talk to the Speaker if there is a need for that to make sure that the resolution is passed on the floor of the House of Representatives for government to initiate it,” says Ndume.
Report by the International Committee of the Red Cross in September put the figure of missing persons in the country at nearly 22, 000 people – a number described highest globally based on its case files.
He promised to reach out to other experts to check against likely defects while pushing the bill.
“There is a need to have a desk or commission to account for the missing persons, and even create some kind of social justice for the missing persons.”