Presidency Faults Amnesty International Report Alleging Rights Violation by Military

The Presidency and the Nigerian military have described the report of Amnesty International which alleged rights abuses against troops fighting Boko Haram in North East as lacking credibility.

The Presidency said the recent report released by the rights group alleging human rights violation by Nigerian security agencies was inherently battling with credibility, falling vehemently short of evidential narration.

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said in Abuja on Thursday that the report was short on credibility because it does not contain factual leads that could have laid the foundation for investigative actions.

He noted that findings were attributed to people but proper description of such people constituting the source of information was not provided.

“Engagement was claimed to have been made with Nigerian authorities but which authority is it, is not provided with clarity.

“This then is just a wild goose chase report, in essence.

“In some breath, the report seemed like the one in 2015, and the one in 2016, and the one after that year, the same things being recycled again and again.

“It ignores the fact of the existing mechanisms put in place by the military, as a self-correcting step and the high-level committee constituted by the Presidency to examine any such claims,’’ he further noted.

Shehu observed that over this period of time, the Nigerian military had indeed established cases of abuse and punishments meted out from Orderly Room trials and Court Martials that resulted in losses of rank, dismissals, and trials and convictions by civil courts.

The military had alerted of plans by the rights body to publish a false report on the military activities in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in North East.

The military’s “credible intelligence” alleged claims of plan by Amnesty International (AI) to publish fictitious rape incidents in Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) camps in the insurgency-ravaged North East.

The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim, said the military had credible information about the plan and that the report which Amnesty International intends to release.

The military is unhappy with what it says “is becoming a frequent ritual by the human rights watchdog’’, which had previously accused it of rights violations.

In February and March, the military condemned two reports by Amnesty – the first accusing it of rights violations in its operations and the second accusing it of ignoring warnings about the raid by Boko Haram on Dapchi in Yobe State that led to the abduction of schoolgirls.

The military warned that the planned unsavory report by amnesty and such reports were capable of demoralising its members and hurting the war against insurgency.

“This malicious trend by AI is becoming a frequent ritual and it is rather unfortunate,” the statement read in part.

 “In times like this, Amnesty International is expected to apply the natural law of liaison by working with security agencies as partners.

“This would have been the best way to ensure that insurgency and crisis are completely wiped off rather than engaging in falsehood, maligning the military and painting her in bad light at any slight opportunity.”

The military assured Nigerians that it remained committed to abiding by all human rights regulations endorsed by the country and carry out its constitutional role.

It, however, called on Amnesty to “desist from cooking reports from time to time to demoralise the entire military system and nation as a whole”.

Stressing that troops are sacrificing their lives in the fight against Boko Haram and other enemies of the country, the military called for an end to reports it described as fictitious.

“These false reports which are capable of derailing the good work being done by our patriotic and selfless soldiers must stop,” it said.

In March, while denying the claim by AI that the military failed to take action to stop the abduction of over 100 school girls from Dapchi, Brigadier General Agim had accused the human rights organisation of lacking credibility in its operations in Nigeria.

Agim called on the organisation to carry out its activities with credibility.

“We are not in any way implying that AI should not do their job, but such must be done with a level of integrity and credibility by seeking clarification when the need arises,” he said.

“This way a lot will be achieved as both will form partners in the fight against extremism and other vices.”

Amnesty International has yet to react to the statements by the military and presidency but had in the past alleged that the military was involved in extra-judicial killings, rape, and spurns human rights.

In its 2017/2018 Human Rights report, it said the Nigerian security forces carried out widespread human rights abuses such as extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, mass detention in sub-human facilities, attacks on the media and journalists, violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, and forced evictions.

The report condemned the military for its “total disregard” for human rights in its execution of the war against violent Islamist group Boko Haram.

“The Nigerian Army carried out, “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, and torture and other ill-treatment, which, in some cases, led to deaths in custody.”

It said that the condition of the military detention facilities in the North-east and other parts of the country was harsh, and children were detained unlawfully alongside their parents in these centres.

“Detainees were denied access to lawyers and family members. The army released 593 detainees in April and 760 in October. By April, the military detention facility at Giwa barracks, Maiduguri, held more than 4,900 people in extremely over-crowded cells.

“Disease, dehydration and starvation were rife and at least 340 detainees died. At least, 200 children, as young as four, were detained in the overcrowded and unhygienic children’s cell. Some children were born in detention,” the report said.

Similarly, the report also alleged that soldiers killed 10 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Umuahia and injured 12 others on September 14, 2017. (NAN)

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