Posted by News Express | 5 August 2014 | 4,022 times
The Nigerian military has reacted swiftly to Amnesty International’s report released yesterday, which accused it of brazen abuse of human rights in the on-going war against Boko Haram terrorists.
Defence Headquarters in a statement uploaded this morning on the website of its Information Department announced its decision to investigate the video on which Amnesty based its report and vowed to deal ruthlessly with any of its officers and men found guilty of involvement in any acts of brutality or extra-judicial killings. The statements reads as follows:
“The Nigerian military takes the issue of Human Rights seriously and will never condone any proven case of abuse by its personnel. Military authorities are deeply concerned about the set of video footage being circulated and which unfortunately has also become reference data for Amnesty International in its report.
“Much as the scenes depicted in these videos are alien to our operations and doctrines, it has to be investigated to ensure that such practices have not crept, surreptitiously into the system. The Defence Headquarters considers these allegations too grievous to be associated with Nigerian troops, considering the doctrinal and operational contents of the training imparted to personnel on a continuous basis; emphasizing the importance of respect for Human Rights and dignity of human person as well as observance of humanitarian laws.
“Notwithstanding the cases of impersonations that have pervaded the counter terrorism operations in Nigeria and many other related issues which cast doubts on the claims made in the video, the military authorities view those grave allegations very seriously, more so as it borders on the integrity of the ongoing counter-terrorism operation, which must be sustained in the interest of our national survival.
“Consequently, the Defence Headquarters in addition to the already existing Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has constituted a team of senior officers and legal cum forensic experts to study the video footage and the resultant allegations of infractions in order to ascertain the veracity of the claims with a view to identifying those behind such acts. This will further determine and stimulate necessary legal action against any personnel or anyone found culpable in accordance with the provisions of the law.
“The Nigerian Armed Forces cannot condone any action or inaction that tramples on the right to life of any Nigerian. The ultimate objective of Nigeria’s counter-terrorism operation is the complete cessation of the heinous and barbaric activities of the terrorists and to stamp out every vestige of terrorism in our country with the application of international best practices in such operations.
“It will therefore, be absurd for the Nigerian Armed Forces as an institution to perpetrate such unprofessional acts in the manner and level depicted in that video as alleged by Amnesty International. Indeed, that level of barbarism and impunity has no place in the Nigerian military. Respect for the sanctity of life is always boldly emphasized in our doctrinal trainings. It must thus be reiterated that the Nigerian military is a very well organized professional body of troops whose conducts in war and peace times are guided comprehensively by law.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria is conscious of the nation’s obligation to observe all rules, regulations and commitments in all activities, and wishes to reassure all Nigerians, the civil societies and the international community that it will not encourage or condone any form of human rights violation as depicted in the said video.”
News Express reports that Amnesty International in the explosive report accused the Nigerian military of committing 600 extra-judicial killings in the course of the on-going war against terror.
The report signed by Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, stated that video footage Amnesty International obtained during trips to Borno State reveals multiple war crimes being carried out in Nigeria by the military and Boko Haram.
It stated: “It includes horrific images of detainees having their throats slit one by one and dumped in mass graves by men who appear to be members of the Nigerian military and the “Civilian Joint Task Force” (CJTF), state-sponsored militias. It also shows the aftermath of a Boko Haram raid on a village in which the armed group killed nearly 100 people and destroyed or badly damaged scores of homes and other buildings.
“This shocking new evidence is further proof of the appalling crimes being committed with abandon by all sides in the conflict. Nigerians deserve better – what does it say when members of the military carry out such unspeakable acts and capture the images on film?”
Amnesty International stated that it did not expect such evidence and report “from a government, which sees itself as having a leadership role in Africa,” adding: “The ghastly images are backed up by the numerous testimonies we have gathered which suggest that extrajudicial executions are, in fact, regularly carried out by the Nigerian military and CJTF.”
Amnesty alleged that more than 4,000 people have been killed this year alone in the conflict by the Nigerian military and Boko Haram, including more than 600 extra-judicially executed following the Giwa Barracks attack on March 14 in Maiduguri.
“In recent months, the conflict has intensified in north-eastern Nigeria, spreading to smaller towns and villages which are now increasingly on the front line. In July 2014 Damboa in Borno state became the first town to fall under the control of Boko Haram since President Goodluck Jonathan declared the State of Emergency in May 2013,” Amnesty stated.
It called on Nigerian authorities to ensure that the military stops committing human rights and humanitarian law violations. “All reports of extrajudicial executions and other war crimes and serious violations must be investigated promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially, with those responsible – up the entire chain of command – brought to justice,” the group demanded.
•Photo shows Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh.
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