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War Crimes: Amnesty International Blast FG Over Reinstatement of Army General Implicated In Mass Murder

By The Nigerian Voice
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The reinstatement of a senior Nigerian military general implicated in the

mass murder of hundreds of detainees underlines the monumental failure of

the government to stamp out impunity for war crimes at the highest level,

said Amnesty International.
Last June, Amnesty International named Major General Ahmadu Mohammed,

along with eight other senior commanders, calling for an investigation

into their possible criminal responsibility for war crimes including the

deaths of more than 8,000 of detainees.
Major General Ahmadu, was in charge of 7 Division and was in command of

operations when the military executed more than 640 detainees following a

Boko Haram attack on the detention centre in Giwa barracks on 14 March

2014. He was retired in 2014 for unrelated reasons, but reinstated this

month.
An in depth report exposed a range of war crimes and possible crimes

against humanity committed by the military in the course of operations

against Boko Haram. It found that, since March 2011, more than 7,000 were

starved, suffocated, and tortured to death in military detention camps. A

further 1,200 were rounded up and unlawfully killed.

“Major General Mohammed must be investigated for participating in,

sanctioning or failing to prevent the deaths of hundreds of people,” said

Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“Young men and boys, rounded up by the military, were either shot,

starved, suffocated or tortured to death and no one has yet been held to

account. It is unthinkable that Major General Muhammed could resume

command of troops before an investigation has even begun.”

The report, Stars on their shoulders, blood on their hands: War crimes

committed by the Nigerian military, was based on years of research and

analysis of evidence – including leaked military reports and

correspondence, as well as interviews with more than 400 victims,

eyewitnesses and senior members of the Nigerian security forces.

It exposed a range of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity

committed by the military in the course of operations against Boko Haram.

It found that, since March 2011, more than 7,000 were starved, suffocated,

and tortured to death in military detention camps. A further 1,200 were

rounded up and unlawfully killed.
It named nine senior Nigerian military figures along the chain of command

who should be investigated for potential command and individual

responsibility for the crimes committed.
Hours after the publication of the report on 3 June, President Buhari

responded personally on Twitter to say: “I assure you that your report

will be looked into…This administration will leave no stone unturned to

promote the rule of law, and deal with all cases of human rights abuses.”

Likewise the President announced on 12 June 2015 that investigating

criminal responsibility for the violations documented in Amnesty

International’s report would be the first task of the Attorney General.

This investigation is yet to begin.
Since the publication of the report, four of the named military commanders

have retired. Two others had already retired prior to the publication of

the report. The current status of two Brigadier Generals is unknown. Major

General Mohammed was removed from his post on 16 May 2014 two days after a

reported mutiny by his own men. News of his reinstatement reached Amnesty

International on 17 January.
“Seven months after the publication of these horrific discoveries and the

President’s pledge that they will be looked into, we continue to call for

urgent independent investigations to begin,” said Salil Shetty.

“Those responsible for the crimes detailed in Amnesty International’s

report must be held to account, no matter their rank or position. Only

then can there be justice for the dead and their relatives.”

BACKGROUND
In November 2015, the Office of the Prosecutor at the International

Criminal Court, identified two potential cases of crimes against humanity

and war crimes by the Nigerian military. These relate to the arrest,

detention, torture and death in custody of Boko Haram suspects and

extrajudicial executions, including of recaptured detainees on 14 March

2014.
The prosecutor is assessing the admissibility of the potential cases in

order to reach a decision on whether the criteria for opening an

investigation are met.
Amnesty International’s report into human rights violations by the

military was published on 3 June 2015. Based on the evidence it uncovered,

the organization believes that the following military officers should be

investigated for potential individual or command responsibility for the

war crimes of murder, enforced disappearance and torture detailed in this

report:
Major General Ahmadu Mohammed – reinstated.
He was Commander of 7 Division from 24 February until 16 May 2014. During

this period, Amnesty International continued to document arbitrary arrests

and unlawful detention of thousands of people in inhumane conditions, the

deaths in custody of large numbers of detainees and extrajudicial

executions committed by Nigerian troops under his command. In addition,

Major General Ahmadu Mohammed was in charge of military operations when,

in the aftermath of a Boko Haram attack on Giwa Barracks, Nigerian

military executed more than 640 former detainees. Major General Mohammed

was reinstated in January 2016 and is waiting to be assigned a post.

Major General John A.H. Ewansiha – currently retired.

He was General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Operation Restore Order I (ORO)

and Operation BOYONA between January 2012 and August 2013. As GOC of ORO

and Operation BOYONA, he was informed about the arbitrary arrest and

unlawful detention of thousands of people in inhumane conditions, the

deaths in custody of large numbers of detainees and extrajudicial

executions in areas under his command in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

He received regular reports indicating the commission of these crimes by

his subordinates and failed to take measures to stop and prevent them or

to bring those responsible to account. In August 2013, he became Chief of

Standards and Evaluation at Army Headquarters and Chief of Training and

Operations at Army Headquarters.
Major General Obida T Ethan – currently retired.

He was Commander of 7 Division from 22 August 2013 until 1 January 2014.

Major General Ethan took over the command of the military operations in

Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in August 2013 from Major General Ewansiha.

During this period, Amnesty International continued to document arbitrary

arrests and unlawful detention of thousands of people in inhumane

conditions, the deaths in custody of large numbers of detainees and

extrajudicial executions committed by Nigerian troops under his command.

Brigadier General Austin O. Edokpayi – status unknown.

He was in command of the Multinational Joint Task Force based in Baga from

at least April 2013 until December 2013 where Nigerian soldiers were

responsible for arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, the

extrajudicial executions of more than 185 people in April 2013, and deaths

in custody in Baga detention facility.
Brigadier General Rufus O. Bamigboye – status unknown.

He was Commander of the 21 Armoured Brigade, stationed in Giwa barracks

from February 2012 till September 2013. He was in charge of the barracks

during the period when at least 5,000 detainees died in custody, and when

torture and ill-treatment were used routinely. In December 2013, he was

promoted to Deputy Director of Operations at Defence Headquarters.

According to media reports, Brigadier General Bamigboye was appointed

Chief of Staff of 81 Division in July 2015. Amnesty International has not

been able to verify his current status.
In addition, Amnesty International believes that the following high-level

military commanders should be investigated for their potential command

responsibility for crimes committed by their subordinates given that they

knew or should have known about the commission of the crimes, and failed

to take adequate action:
Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika. He was Chief of Army Staff from September

2010 until he retired in January 2014.
Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim. He was Chief of Defence Staff from 4 October

2012 until he retired in January 2014.