A humans rights group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has thrown its advocacy weight behind the recent investigation by Amnesty International which uncovered widespread sexual violation and exploitation of internally displaced girls in the North East by the military.
It therefore asked the government to stop living in shameful denial but to thoroughly investigate the massive allegations and punish the offenders, wondering why Nigeria would institutionally continue to stick to old fashion obstinacy and empty deceits embellished with false national pride instead of adopting and complying with global standards as practiced in all other nations as mechanisms of resolving proven cases of Human Rights breaches.
â€œWe are seriously worried that since 1979 or thereabout when some unruly soldiers stormed the then ‘Kalakuta Republic’ shrine of the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti in Ojualegba Lagos State and slaughtered members of the audience and the mother of the musician, up until the recent extra-legal killings of hundreds of civilians belonging to the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) and Shiites Islamic movement, the Nigeria Army has refused to change and embrace the demands of professionalism to investigate damaging allegations through uncompromising mechanisms and apportion sanctions to indicted operatives appropriately in line with extant military and civilian laws against those who have committed grave human rights violations,â€ it said.
In a statement made against the backdrop of the recent report by the United Kingdom founded international non-governmental organisation- Amnesty International, indicting soldiers for compelling girls and women in the internally displaced personsâ€™ camps in the North East of Nigeria to give them sexual gratifications in exchange for the relief materials donated by the federal government and international non-governmental bodies, HURIWA lamented that both the Civil and Military authorities had rejected the findings even before any form of investigations were carried out.
The National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf said HURIWA was worried that the fundamental rights to dignity of the human persons as constitutionally guaranteed, were wantonly thrown away to the dogs by the current Nigerian government in its irrational and fallacious bid to extend a clean bill of health to the military institution as if the military was made up of Angels who were infallible.
The Rights group reminded Nigeria that the latest report of sexual abuses of innocent but displaced girls and women was the second to have been written by foreign Non-Governmental organisations, the first being the report on a wider scale done last year by the New York based Human Rights Watch just as it pleaded with government to stop disgracing Nigeria and do the needful.
â€œWe hereby ask president Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to set up strong independent panels to be made up of Nigerians of unimpeachable characters to conduct broad based investigations including field interviews under conditions of strict confidentiality to uncover the veracity of these allegations made by Amnesty International based on its properly and scientifically conducted investigations and interviews with victims of these abuses who are Nigerian citizens with rights just like their indicted abusers whom this government has already given blanket absolution without probing the extensively damaging cases of sexual molestations with far reaching emotional and psychological implications for the victims if not comprehensively and transparently redressed.
â€œOn the part of the Nigerian Army, may we plead with the hierarchy to leave a legacy for the next generations by instituting a transformative world view of the Nigerian Army as a force that complies totally with global best practices and enforces strict adherence to the rule of law and respect for the fundamental human rights of all citizens.
â€œAmnesty International wishes Nigeria well and is not affiliated to any political party. Why the heightened state of animosity and sponsored campaign of calumny by street urchins as sponsored by the current federal administration? The government officials must live by their constitutional oaths of office to uphold all the necessary human rights safeguards and laws in Nigeria,â€ HURIWA said.
Media reports indicate that Women and girls who fled terrorist group Boko Haram were being raped by Nigerian soldiers, starved and forced to exchange food for sex, according to claims in a new report by human rights group Amnesty International.
HURIWA recalled that thousands of these women have died because of lack of food in camps for internally displaced people in Nigeria’s northeast after they were rescued from Boko Haram.
HURIWA said that in the report titled “They betrayed us,” it is alleged that five women said they were raped by soldiers in late 2015 and early 2016 in a displacement camp in Bama, Borno State.
Regrettably, HURIWA recalled that the Nigerian army spokesman John Agim denied the allegations in the Amnesty report, branding them “propaganda.”
HURIWA quoted the Defence Spokesman as saying the army hasn’t been deployed to displacement camps, which he said were run by the police, local vigilante groups and NGOs. “I wonder where Amnesty interviewed women who said they saw soldiers in these camps hoarding food and raping women?” Agim asked.
HURIWA said the military’s media chief Mr. Agim accused the human rights group of republishing claims that had been investigated by the Nigerian government and had been found to be false.