The Nigerian Army’s Special Board of Inquiry to investigate alleged human rights violation, Friday released the outcome of its investigations into human rights violations against officers and formations of the Nigerian Army by Amnesty International, wherein it absolved the accused officers of wrongdoing by of those under their watch.
The officers included: Major General L.P. Ngubane (rtd), Chief of Training and Operation (CTOP) at the Army Headquarter between May 12 and August 15; Brig-Gen R.O. Bamgboye (rtd), Commander 21 Brigade, Giwa Barracks and Land Component Commander from February 22, 2012 to September 2013, who was allegedly in charge when at least 5,000 detainees died in custody as a result of torture and ill-treatment. Others are: Maj-Gen A.O. Edokpayi, Commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force in Baga from April to December 2013, when Nigerian soldiers carried out arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, as well as extrajudicial killing of over 185 people in April 2013; Maj Gen Ahmadu Mohammed, General Officer Commanding 7 Division from February 14 to May 16, 2014, accused of arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention of thousands of people in inhuman conditions, extrajudicial executions by troops; Maj. Gen O.T. Ethan (rtd), GOC 7 Division from August 22, 2013 to January 1, 2014; and Maj Gen John A.H. Ewansiha (rtd), commander of Operation RESTORE ORDER and later Operation BOYONA, between January 2012 and August 2013.
The report of the board presented by Major General NE Angbazo for the Chief Of Army Staff, however advised “on the desirability of a Presidential Panel of Inquiry to investigate all cases of human rights violations against the Nigerian Army.”
The board also urged the Army to document all internal security operations in video and photographs, while ensuring that civilians arrested are treated in line with laid down procedures.
Also, the board urged the Army to “direct the immediate installation of CCTV cameras and a monitoring room at the Giwa Barracks detention facility and repair of the damaged once at Wawa detention facility.
While the Army was enjoined to develop the capacity of its Human Rights Desk to conduct human rights investigation and human rights for military personnel, it was also urged to allow lawyers from the National Human Rights Commission an Legal Aid Council access to Hoko Haram detainees.
The nine-man board presided over by Major-Gen AT Jibrin (rtd) also recommended that the Army should “convene and institutionalize a quarterly high level meeting on access to justice for the insurgents for the purpose of creating a platform for enhances coordination, better collaboration and cooperation among the Federal Ministry of Justice and security institutions.”
The board also recommended the continuation of support collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), National Human Rights Commission and other relevant human rights groups to further entrench human rights culture in the Nigerian Army.
Specifically, the board frowned at the delay in the trial of BH detainees, leading to some cases of deaths in custody, which it stressed “is unacceptable and a denial of the rights of fair trial of detainees.
“The board finds the denial of access of legal representation or at least visitation from legal practitioners including lawyers from the legal aid council a violation of human rights,” adding that any attempt to justify this state of affairs would trivialize the Army’s commitment to respect for fundamental human rights.
The board also had as members, two civilians as lawyers, three retired officers and four serving officers including Brig Gen OL Olayinka, Col LB Mohammed;and Col UM Wambai; while Lt Col CM Akaliro, served as secretary.