Posted by News Express | 14 February 2021 | 421 times
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has asked foreign embassies in Nigeria to discountenance allegations of human rights violations made against immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, by a group known as the Eastern Rights and Intelligentsia Coalition.
Besides, HURIWA stated that Gen Buratai as well as other immediate past service chiefs recently named as envoy nominees by President Muhammadu Buhari, are reputable statesmen with unblemished records of professional services rendered to Nigeria and have no case in any local or international judicial fora.
The letters to the 31 foreign embassies in Nigeria by HURIWA and AFRIRIGHTS were sent against the backdrop of earlier letters to same embassies by the Eastern Rights and intelligentsia coalition in which they reportedly canvassed the prosecution of the former Service Chiefs at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, for crimes against humanity and human rights breaches.
The right groups through the National Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Ms Zainab Yusuf, categorically stated that rather than recrimination and casting undue aspersions in a bid to ridicule the public standing and assassinate the character of General Buratai and other former military chiefs, these persons who had only just voluntarily retired from the Nigeria military after 40 years deserve accolades and national awards for their undiluted services to Nigeria.
Excerpts from the letters to the embassies by HURIWA and ARIRIGHTS dated February 12, 2021 reads thus:
“Contrary to insinuations and allegations by some groups under the aegis of Eastern Rights and Intelligentsia Coalition against General Tukur Buratia, we hereby on behalf of over eighth thousand members and over 36 registered affiliates, humbly write you this letter to bring your Excellency, up to speed, with what the immediate past Chief of Army Staff General Buratai adopted to resolve alleged Human Rights Violations by soldiers.
“The past six years have seen Boko Haram atrocities in the northern part of Nigeria raising serious internal insecurity issues and international uproar by its tendency to strike freely, killing and maiming with destruction. These have thus attracted the reliance of the Nigeria government on the military action to deal with Boko Haram.
“It is vital to note first that, the Nigerian Police are statutorily charged with ensuring internal security and public order but the complexity of the threat has seen the army aiding the police.
“[It is] pertinent to mention that the involvement of the armed forces in the fight against Boko Haram enjoyed legal backing in the Nigeria’s Constitution and the Armed Forces Act, which empowers the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to determine its operational use.
“With the absence of war with other states around the world, in maintaining Nigeria’s territorial integrity and securing its borders, the armed forces have been deployed more to suppress insurrections and assisting, mostly the Police and Nigerian Securities and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the storm of ugly disturbances in different parts of Nigeria, especially in dealing with Boko Haram insurgency among others.
“[It is] pertinent to mention that the struggle by the Nigerian army to combat the Boko Haram insurgents changed with the reorganization of the military, notably the appointment of Lt. Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai as Chief of Army Staff and relocation of the military command structure to Borno State by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
2.0 ALLEGATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
“It is a truism that the primary roles of the Nigerian Army are to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to assist the civil authority when called upon to do so. Noticeably, in discharging these constitutional responsibilities, there have been allegations of human rights violations against the Nigerian Army by local and international human rights campaigners, – Civil Society Groups and Non-Governmental Organizations like the Amnesty International, Transparency International and Human Rights Watch among others.
“One of the organizations that constantly kept the Nigerian Army on its toes is the Amnesty International; an international rights watchdog which constantly released negative reports on the Army’s handling of human rights issues.
“For the purposefulness, we shall only concentrate on allegations during when Lt Gen TY Buratai held sway as the Army Chief.
“These allegations border mainly on extra judicial killings, torture, extortion, arbitrary arrest and detention as well as sexual philandering or exploitation. Others are poor detention facility and pitiable medical access and supplies to suspects in military detention centers.
“These claims portrayed the Nigerian Army in bad light, created rancor and distrust between the army and the civil populace, dampened the morale of troops in the operational arenas, almost distracted the military leadership and maligned the image and reputation of the Nigerian Army.
“In order to respond and or address these accusations, the Chief of Army Staff; Lt Gen Buratai (as he then was), initiated and institutionalized certain measures intended to eliminate rights abuses by the personnel of the Nigerian Army.
“Adherence to the rule of law was consistent with Buratais’ vision to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of constitutional roles.
“Therefore it is important that a patriotic citizen such as Lt. Gen Buratai should not be branded with agents and saboteurs working hard to destabilise the Nigerian Army through the spreading of combinations of fabricated stories and damaging insinuations aimed at rubbishing the public standing of the legacy Buratai left behind.
“Undoubtedly, since the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, no COAS has demonstrated Buratai’s pragmatism in repositioning the Nigerian Army. It is a dangerous and indeed disingenuous politics for politicians or propagandists who hate the retired Chief of Army Staff; Lt-Gen Buratai maybe for some self-centered reasons to go to be spreading the poisonous perception.
“We humbly urge you respectfully, to discountenance the speculative allegations made against lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai as the internal judicial institutions and internal mechanisms have handled some of these cases not even directly linked to him.”
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