Presidential Panel indicts Military for rape, extra-judicial killings

The Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement by the Nigerian Armed Forces has indicted the military for rape and extra-judicial killings in the course of fighting insurgents in the north-east.

By this submission, the presidential panel has invariably vindicated Amnesty International (AI) and other bodies that first accused the Nigerian military of unprofessional conducts.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo while acting as president in August 2017 inaugurated the eight-man panel to review compliance of the Armed Forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement.

Osinbajo directed the panel to investigate allegations of human rights abuses levelled against the military by Amnesty International and other organisations.

In one of its reports, Amnesty International alleged that the military committed several human right abuses while battling Boko Haram insurgents.

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Amnesty International’s 2016 reports on Nigeria alleged that 240 people, including infants, died in military detention camps in the North East while 177 pro-Biafran agitators were allegedly extra-judicially killed in the same year.

The panel, in page 67 of the report, which was submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari last year found as follows: “On the presentation and the contents of the reports by the Amnesty International, we find that some of the allegations against the Nigerian military, particularly relating to allegations of extra judicial killings, rape, sexual exploitations and prolonged detention were corroborated by evidence of other petitioners and were this made out against the Nigerian military.

“However, most of the other wild allegations of blood on the hands of the Nigerian military commanders and mass graves of victims of military killings were not substantiated.”

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The report noted that some of the allegations raised by Amnesty International tallied with evidence given “by other petitioners and confirmed the existence of some abuses of both international humanitarian law and human rights obligations by the Nigerian military as already found in those specific cases by this panel.”

The panel’s report also confirmed the allegations which members of the public believed to be true but denied by the military, but the president has yet to act on the report.

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