Niger Clash: Army Fails to Present Officers before Panel of Inquiry

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The Nigerian Army yesterday failed to present soldiers before a Judicial Commission of Inquiry the Niger State Government set up to investigate an operation that led to the death of 24 persons. The operation was carried out in four communities in Bosso Local Government Area of Niger State on August 4, claiming 24 lives including military officers and property worth of million destroyed.

The state government, thus, set up the commission under the chairmanship of Justice Mohammed Mohammed to find out the immediate and remote causes of the communal conflict, which scores of indigenes injured. The commission had asked the Nigerian Army to present 59 soldiers involved in the operation before it, noting that their testimonies were critical to the assignment it was set up to perform. At the resumed sitting yesterday, counsel to the Nigerian Army, Lt. Col. Michael Ede Elom, said it was impossible to present the soldiers before the commission, citing its implication for national security.

The counsel explained why it was practically impossible to present the soldiers, noting that some of them “have been sent on official assignments within and outside Nigeria which has made their physical presence difficult.” Elom, however, said he was working with the General Officer Commanding, 31 Field Artillery Brigade Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Olarenwaju Jimoh on the possibility of presenting the soldiers before the commission. In his response, the commission’s chairman, urged the Nigerian Army to ensure that the soldiers were brought to testify, emphasising that it “is important that we see and hear from.” Mohammed reminded the army and others appearing before the tribunal that it is a fact-finding panel as such, nobody should be afraid to testify before us.” The tribunal will continue its sitting.