By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday in Abuja said a series of allegations of fundamental rights abuses levelled against the military were capable of undermining the war against terrorism.
Osinbajo made this comment while inaugurating a presidential investigative panel to examine the compliance of the Armed Forces with rights obligations and rules of engagement in the course of their assignment.
He said inaugurating the panel became imperative in the face of many allegations levelled against the security agencies.
“Indeed conventional human rights norms and conventional human rights observers are challenged by various nuances of asymmetric warfare. Nonetheless, there are series of allegations levelled against security forces by some local and international commentators….. the allegations are capable of undermining the good works and efforts of the men and women of the armed forces who have largely conducted themselves in a disciplined and professional manner,” he stated.
He said the focus of the Buhari administration went beyond mere constitutional duties of protecting lives of the Nigerians citizens, adding that “respect for the lives of Nigerian citizens is not just a constitutional but also moral duty.”
He added: “This is why it is incumbent upon us even as we maintain security especially in conflict situations, to interrogate alleged crimes and human rights abuses by all sides of these conflicts and insurgencies.
“Today’s occasion is a continuation of the efforts of this administration geared towards attaining its goal. You may recall that in June, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the military to conduct an internal inquiry into allegations of rights abuses by its personnel.”
The acting president also praised the Nigerian military, saying “it is also a well – known fact that the conduct of the country’s defence and security forces during insurgency in the North-east and militancy in the Niger Delta has in recent times attracted significant commendations.
While charging members of the panel to discharge their duties diligently, impartially and with all sense of professionalism, the acting president urged them to also obtain information on conditions of service of the armed forces or any other factors that might have hindered the optimal performance.
Members of the Panel are as follows:
Hon. Justice Biobele Georgewill ,Chairman, Maj. Gen. Patrick Akem, Olawale Fapohunda, Mrs. Hauwa Ibrahim, Jibrin Ibrahim, Abba A. Ibrahim,Mrs. Ifeoma Nwakama, Dr. Fatima Alkali, Counsel to the Panel Mr. S. Halliru.