25 October 2017

Nigeria: Tribunal On Rights Abuses Against Military Invites Falana, Boko Haram Suspects to Testify

The Presidential Investigation Panel to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement has called on human rights lawyers, Femi Falana, and other counsel representing Boko Haram suspects to come forward and present their cases before the panel.

The Chairman of the nine-man panel, Justice Biobel Abraham Georgewill, made the call in Lagos yesterday, during the South-west zone sitting of the tribunal which kicked off on Monday.

Justice Georgewill said it was imperative for those in the South-west zone to come up with their allegations against the armed forces before the panel.

He also called on interested parties to join the panel members on a one day fact finding mission to Kirikiri Maximum Prisons where many Boko Haram suspects are being held.

The federal government inaugurated the panel to review extant rules of engagement applicable in the armed forces of Nigeria and the extent of compliance with them.

Part of the terms of reference of the panel was to also investigate alleged acts of violation of international humanitarian and human rights law under the constitution of the country, Geneva Convention and other relevant laws.

The panel was also to investigate matters of conduct and discipline in the armed forces in local conflicts and insurgencies and recommend measures to prevent the violation of international humanitarian and human rights law in conflict situations.

At yesterday's proceedings the panel heard how a Sergeant with the Nigerian Army killed an okada rider by viciously kicking him in the stomach.

While being led in evidence by a representative of the National Human Rights Commission, the brother of the deceased, Salihu Mohammad, recounted that his brother Abubakar Alhaji died a day after he was brutalised by one Sergeant Taiwo Owoeye of the Nigerian Army.

"The incident happened on January 27, 2017. According to what I gathered, my late brother picked up a passenger on his motorcycle around Morocco in Yaba.

"He parked his motorcycle behind a stationary car, not knowing that there was someone in the car. Suddenly, the car reversed, and my brother hit the body of the car in order to notify the occupant that there was someone behind him.

"Sergeant Taiwo Owoeye angrily got down from his car and slapped my brother twice. He thereafter proceeded to kick him several times in the stomach.

"When onlookers challenged him, he said that there was nothing anybody could do even if my brother dies.

"My brother thereafter became unconcious and we had to rush him to the military hospital. By that time he had started vomiting blood and other things. He could not talk.

"He sadly died the next day. We reported the matter at the Panti Police Station where they declined to give us a police report.

"My brother's body was not released to us for burial until after four months. When we inquired why the delay, we were told that the army was trying to conduct an autopsy," Mohammed said.

Nigeria

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