Commission disagrees with Amnesty report on human rights abuses in North East

Maiduguri, March 10, 2017 (TNE): The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has disagreed with the report by Amnesty International, accusing the Nigerian Army of human rights abuses and violations in the North East.

A statement issued by Lt.-Col. Kinsley Samuel, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, in Maiduguri on Friday, quoted NHRC acting Executive Secretary, Mr Oti Ovrawah as criticising the Amnesty report.

Ovrawah said that the report was not supported with facts that reflected the situation in the area.

He spoke during a project launch called: “Promoting Human Rights Accountability in the North East”.

Ovrawah wondered why a respected international organisation of high repute like Amnesty International would issue areport without making findings from those on ground.

He called on the media and international bodies to always carry out thorough investigations on a matter before making it public.

He encouraged the Nigerian Army to continue the good job it was doing in the North East, stressing that the soldiers had always carried out their duties in line with international best practices.

Amnesty International recently released a report accusing the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole of human rights abuses and violations in the North East.

The NHRC scribe said that the essence of the project was to mainstream human rights into Operation Lafiya Dole activities, its rules of engagement and code of conduct.

Ovrawah said that human rights would also be mainstreamed into their activities to design and develop a code of conduct for Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF).

This includes bringing accountability to bear for all alleged human rights violations committed during the counter insurgency operation.

“This can be in form of civil remedies or criminal prosecutions in collaboration with Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and relevant justice ministries at the state and federal levels,” he said.

Ovrawah said that the project would help to sensitise citizens of North East to human rights through various media, redress mechanism for human rights violations against them, institute high impact catalytic and other cases arising from human rights violations, on behalf of the citizens.

“The project team will also be in liaison with Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to monitor, investigate, analyse, institute and prosecute cases of human rights violations as may be necessary,” he said.

Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the Theatre Commander, Operation of Lafiya Dole, assured NHRC of the support of officers under his command and by extension, the Nigerian Army in the promotion of human rights through strict adherence to relevant laws guiding the fight against insurgency.

Brig.- Gen. Victor Ezugwu, the Commander represented by the Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, said that the forum would give stakeholders the opportunity to interact on human rights-related matters with a view to finding solutions to checkmate abuses.

He said that the Nigerian Army under the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.- Gen. Tukur Buratai, had placed high priority on the respect of fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

He said such had prompted the establishment of Department of Civil-Military Relations in the Army Headquarters and Human Rights Desk in all Army formations in the country.

“Violators of human rights in Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre have been made to face court marshal and punished as deterrent.

“It is also to checkmate excesses of troops in the ongoing operation against insurgents in the region,” he said.

Alhaji Shettima Kashi, the Governor of Borno State, represented by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, pledged to support the commission in ensuring that human rights abuses were curtailed to the barest minimum.

He eulogised the Nigerian Army for its efforts and determination to end insurgency in Nigeria. (TNE)

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