President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to investigate the report by Amnesty International indicting top past and present military commanders for possible war crimes in the war against extremist group Boko Haram.
AI has alleged that at least nine former and present commanders of the military knew of the killings and the horrendous treatment of detainees in military custody in the northeast. The report said more than 8000 people were killed by starvation, inhalation of dangerous chemical and torture.
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, to the president, Garba Shehu, Mr Buhari, a former General in the army, promised to look into the report.
“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,” he said.
Meanwhile, the military has denied that its commanders were involved in gruesome allegations in the report. Describing the allegation as unfortunate, the military said the AI is bent on tarnishing the good work done by its commanders in the war against terror.
“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,” a statement by military said.
It accuse AI of playing to the script of Boko Haram collaborators because it always come up with its allegation anytime the terrorist are on the back foot in the war. It said it has investigated previous allegations and have invited credible international organisations such as the Red Cross to come look at its detention facilities and wonder why AI did not reflect all this efforts in its report.
“It is clear that Amnesty International (AI) becomes more active in presenting distractive allegations whenever the terrorists are losing ground in the battle. It is very unfortunate that Amnesty International has used this report to further confirm its questionable interest in the counter-terrorism effort in Nigeria.
“It will be recalled that the Joint Investigation Team was set up by the Defence Headquarters as part and parcel of efforts to ensure that no detainee suffer unjustly. The detention facilities were thrown open for visits and inspections by independent bodies such as International Committee of the Red Cross and other reputable international organisations and personalities.
“Amnesty International is advised to stop playing the role of an irritant coming up loudly only when the terrorists are losing out and remaining silent or complacent whenever the terrorist heightens its atrocities. It is unfair to persist in effort to discredit Nigerian military by seeking all avenues to stigmatise individual officers of the nation’s military purely to satisfy an agenda against the security agencies and image of Nigeria before the international community.
“The Nigerian Armed Forces is quite conscious of the fact that the operation has prompted the need to save citizens from abuse of their rights by mindless terrorists. Accordingly, the forces
“The Defence Headquarters has 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.
“Each of the previous allegations had been thoroughly responded to and cleared in the public and officially. The title down to the body of the allegation smacks of the extreme bias, which is disturbing coming from an otherwise reputable organisation that is expected to be just and fair to all. Unfortunately in this case, has taken a premeditated position, which is far from noble.
“It is curious that a body that has never been able to seriously condemn terror in Nigeria now claims to have done an extensive research with the aim of discrediting the nation’s effort at curtailing terror.”