From Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate Wednesday resolved to probe the report of Amnesty International which accused the military of human rights abuses and rape of women in Internally Displaced Persons Camps in the North East Zone.
It has therefore set up a seven-man ad hoc committee to look into the allegations and report back to the Senate in two weeks. The ad-hoc committee is headed by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru (Niger East),
Other members of the Committee include Senators Babajide Omoworare (Osun East), Abubakar Kyari (Borno North), Jeremiah Useni (Plateau South), Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa North), Stella Oduah (Anambra North) and Ben Murray-Bruce (Bayelsa East).
The resolve of the Senate to probe the Amnesty International report was sequel to a point of order raised by Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central) at plenary, urging the Senate to verify the content of the Amnesty International report, a copy of which he laid before the chamber.
While stressing the need for the upper chamber of the National Assembly to verify the report, Sani alleged that Nigerian soldiers raped and tortured women in IDP camps, going by the report titled â€œThey Betrayed Us”, which was released in May.
Amnesty International had alleged in the report that after having survived the brutal rule of the Boko Haram terrorists, women and children in the IDPs camps have had to face further abuse by the military in exchange for humanitarian assistance.
Sani said â€œThe report by Amnesty International is a report that carries details and empirical evidence of torture, rape and starvation of women detained in the northeastern part of Nigeria.
â€œMany of these women are women that have survived or escaped Boko Haram attacks and invasions.
â€œAs a democracy we have a twin obligation to prosecute the war against terror and in every possible way protect and defend the fundamental rights of Nigerians.
â€œIt is a concern that this report impinges on the integrity, image and reputation of not only the security forces of Nigeria but Nigeria as a country. We have seen reports like this by credible international organisations being discussed globally.
â€œAs a part of this country that has been overran by Boko Haram and a hub of humanitarian activities, this damning report has the capacity and ability of denting the war against terror in Nigeriaâ€, Sani further said
Contributing, Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Naâ€™Allah, however expressed mixed feelings about carrying out the investigation, pointing out that while it was necessary to investigate the allegations, the lawmakers should carry out the probe with caution.
â€œI sympathise with the position of Senator Shehu Sani on this report. Intricate as the report looks like, I accept the fact that this report by an international organisation shows that a little bit of responsibility exists to carefully look at that report.
â€œHowever, I also want the Senate to understand the intricate nature of this war.
â€œHappily enough, Senator Sani has accepted the fact that members of the armed forces and security agencies have paid the supreme price in this intricate war.
â€œThe nature and character of what we have in the country makes it almost practically impossible not to have the kind of report that Amnesty is reporting about Nigeria.
â€œWe must recognise the fact that we are not fighting the war against a defined enemyâ€, Senator Naâ€™Allah stressed.
Senate President , Dr. Bukola Saraki, in his remarks , said since senators are yet to see the report, whatever contributions they may wish to make would be speculative
â€œDeputy Leader, I could see you struggling on both ways. I can see many people raising their hands, but I think the Deputy Leader raised a point; whatever your contributions are going to be will rather be speculative in the sense that you have not seen the report.
â€œSenator Na’Allah’s prayer is for us to investigate the report; make the report available to members and investigate it. Then we can take an informed position before we contributeâ€, Saraki said.
He thereafter read out the names of the members of the seven-man committee to probe the allegations