Amnesty Int’l: DHQ, Lawyers, Balarabe Divided Over Call For Trial Of Generals | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Amnesty Int’l: DHQ, Lawyers, Balarabe Divided Over Call For Trial Of Generals

Posted: Jun 4, 2015 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Joe Nwankwo, Innocent Oweh, Chesa Chesa, (Abuja)

Augustine Adah and Ifeoma Ononye (Lagos)   


Amnesty International, on Wednesday released a report on alleged human right abuses by the Nigerian military, which it wants investigated.

The 131-paged report titled “Stars On Their Shoulders, Blood On Their Hands,” also called for trial of nine former and serving Army Generals, for their alleged roles in war crimes committed between March 2011 and 2014.

At a media briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, AI said the crimes were perpetrated during the fight against Boko Haram in the North East, where the killing of over 8,000 persons were allegedly master minded by the top military officers.

Those affected are: Major General John A.H. Ewansiha; Major General Obida T Ethnan Major General Ahmadu Mohammed; Brigadier General Austin O. Edokpayi; and Brigadier General Rufus O. Bamigboye. Others are: General Azubuike Ihejirika (Chief of Army Staff, September 2010 – January 2014); Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim (Chief of Defence Staff, October 2012 – January 2014); Air Chief Marshal Badeh (Chief of Defence Staff, January 2014 – time of writing); and General Ken Minimah (Chief of Army Staff, January 2014 – time of writing).

Opinions are however divided on the matter.

While some question the credibility of the report; others want the government to carry out Already, President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to “act appropriately” on the report on Nigeria.

Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu, said in a press statement in Niamey, Niger Republic on Wednesday, that Buhari received the report, describing it as containing many disturbing allegations .

“I assure you that your report will be looked into,” Buhari was quoted by Shehu as having assured the AI upon receiving the report.

He said without meaning to prejudice the outcome of any investigation, Nigerians needed to be reassured that “this administration will leave no stone unturned to promote the rule of law, and deal with all cases of human rights abuses.

“Respect for human rights and adherence to the rule of law are the life and soul of the democratic system. We will not tolerate or condone impunity and reckless disregard for human rights,” the statement added.

Reacting, a Constitutional lawyer, Emeka Etiaba, countered the report, saying it is not enough to begin prosecution.

Etiaba told Daily Independent that the mere fact that AI called for prosecution of these senior military officers over their alleged roles in violations of people’s rights is not enough to commence trial.

According to him the issue is not civil in nature but criminal and as such requires proper investigation to ascertain the level of their culpability of innocence as the case may be.

Also, Human right lawyer, Fred Agabaje agreed that Amnesty International do not have sufficient facts for a prosecutable case. He explained that the report is deficient for relevant crime and therefore has no prosecutable case.

Reacting also, Defence Headquarters on Wednesday said the entire report is laced with bias and geared the continued blackmail of the nation’s military.

The statement by Director Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, noted “with dismay the gruesome allegations made by the Amnesty International against some senior military officers serving and retired of the Nigerian Armed Forces. It is unfortunate that all effort made in the allegation was geared towards continuation of blackmail against the military hierarchy in which the organisation had embarked upon as far back as the inception of military’s action against terrorist in the North East.

“The officers mentioned in the report have no reason, whatsoever, to indulge in the allegation made against them. It is unfortunate that the organisation just went out to gather names of specified senior officers, in a calculated attempt to rubbish their reputation as well as the image of the military. The action, no doubt, depicts more of a premeditated indictment aimed at discrediting the country for whatever purpose” he added.

However, former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa described the call by AI a timely and welcome development.

Musa in a telephone conversation with Daily Independent said such trials would be in the interest of the country. “I believe the trial is in the interest of humanity and Nigeria government,” he said.

He stated that a lot of civilian populations were targeted by the military operations in course of fighting Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east of the country stated that the action was against humanity and must not go unpunished.

“A lot of people especially civilian populations who could be more than those killed by Boko Haram members were subjected to torture or killed by the military which in a civilized society such action deserves prove and those found guilty must face the law.”

Also on Wednesday, Buhari has expressed confidence in the ability of the nation’s military to eradicate the Boko Haram menace, having earned a good reputation across the world as a virile fighting force.

He spoke in Niamey, Niger Republic at an interactive session with journalists after talks with President Issoufou Mahamadou of Niger.

“I am four days in office today and we have already started the process of ending the insurgency,” the President said.