Rights Violations: HURIWA backs Amnesty International:
“The recently released yearly human rights reports by Amnesty International, the London based International Non-Governmental body which decried the high rates of extra-legal executions carried out by armed security forces amongst sundry gross human rights violations in Nigeria is the true reflection of the poor human rights record of the current Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”
With the above statement, the pro-democracy and non-Governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has backed the United Kingdom’s based group even as it has asked the Nigerian state to rein in the killing machines that the armed security forces and police have become and ensure that alleged perpetrators of widespread extrajudicial killings amongst the security forces are named, shamed prosecuted and punished in the competent courts of law.
HURIWA alleged that there are killing machines operational amongst the different segments of the armed security forces mainly because these cells are underground and not accsessible to credible and independent local and international organisations. The group said it wrote a letter recently to the minister of justice and the National Assembly to compel law enforcement authorities with detention facilities to open them up for inspection at no notice by independent non governmental bodies but tje Rights group got no response.
HURIWA reiterated her condemnation of the two kangaroo presidential panels set up by the Army and the then Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo on human rights violations against the security forces which turned up a choreographed and highly fraudulently pre-determined outcomes in which the military were absolved of blame in the large scale cases of extralegal killings of both the unarmed members of the hurriedly proscribed indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) and the detained suspected members of the boko haram terror group. The group therefore expressed joy that Amnesty international despite all threats, intimidations and hiring of amorphous groups of hungry unprincipled Protesters to blockade their national office in Abuja could muster courage to write a thoroughly researched and scienyifically provable reporys of grandscale human rights violations in Nigeria ladt year and this year.
The Rights group has in a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf faulted the criticism by the military's high command of the well thought out and factually researched human rights violations by members of Nigeria’s armed security forces as reported by Amnesty international just as the Rights group lamented that the current government had embarked on a sinister plot to completely undermine the independence and powers of the National Human Rights Commission by failing to inaugurate a governing council and disobying the statutory provisions on funding autonomy.
HURIWA recalled that AMNESTY International Nigeria had accused the Nigerian Armed Forces of killing civilians under the guise of fighting herdsmen invading farming communities across the country.
HURIWA further recalled that the organization is demanding that: “The Nigerian authorities must investigate these attacks and, where these investigations indicate criminal responsibility, prosecute those responsible and bring them to justice.”
HURIWA quoted Amnesty International as affirming correctly that the Nigerian authorities’ response to communal violence is totally inadequate, too slow and ineffective, and in some cases unlawful as clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Ondo and Kaduna have resulted in 168 deaths in January 2018 alone.
HURIWA quoted Amnesty as saying thus: “The government must totally overturn its response to these deadly clashes to avoid this crisis getting out of control. They need to investigate and bring suspects to justice".
HURIWA recalled that the UK group through her Nigerian office had claimed rightly so thus: “Launching air raids is not a legitimate law enforcement method by anyone’s standard. Such reckless use of deadly force is unlawful, outrageous and lays bare the Nigerian military’s shocking disregard for the lives of those it supposedly exists to protect,” said Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria. Hundreds of people lost their lives last year, and the government is still not doing enough to protect communities from these violent clashes. Worse, the killers are getting away with murder.”
Amnesty observed that in some cases where the Nigerian security agencies did respond to communal violence, they used excessive or unlawful force resulting in even more deaths and destruction.”
HURIWA said that a press release made available to it amongst others stated that : "on 4 December 2017, Nigeria’s air force sent fighter jets to fire rockets at villages as a “warning” to deter spiralling communal violence, as hundreds of herdsmen attacked at least five villages in Adamawa state to avenge the massacre of up to 51 members of their community, mostly children, the previous month in Kikan. An Amnesty International team visited the villages in the aftermath of the air raids and gathered witness testimony from residents who described being attacked by a fighter jet and a military helicopter as they attempted to flee. The organization condemned the frequent deployment of soldiers to areas where there are communal clashes and pointed out that this has resulted in many cases of excessive use of force, unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions throughout the country as a well as undermine the police."
HURIWA noted that Amnesty International stated in the report that the Nigerian military is currently performing security operations in 30 out of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, often taking over routine policing duties; and frowned at government’s reliance on the military for help in handling what should be public order situations has also seriously undermined the role of the Nigerian police.
HURIWA said the group correctly faulted contradicting statements attributed to the Nigerian Air Force’s (NAF) Director of Public Relations, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, even as Amnesty International called on the Nigerian air force – which has received intensive training from the UK and US militaries in recent years –to hand over the footage of the incident and all relevant information to the authorities, including the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice for investigation."
HURIWA sait it aggrees with the UK founded group that the step by the Airforce of Nigeria is unlawful and amounted to excessive force on a catastrophic scale.
"HURIWA aggrees with Amnesty International's disclosure that the air raids occurred in the villages of Lawaru, Dong, Kodomti, Shafaron and Nzuruwei, where Amnesty International interviewed a total of 15 witnesses.Satellite and aerial imagery secured and analyzed by Amnesty International confirm the devastating cumulative effect of the herders and Air Force attacks, with at least eight villages heavily damaged or completely destroyed by fire".
HURIWA notes with satisfaction that the video footage shot by Amnesty International shows the widespread destruction of homes reduced to charred rubble, twisted metal and ash in areas where the villagers said the rockets landed. Amnesty International’s team also filmed shrapnel gathered by villagers.
HURIWA therefore asked the Nigerian Attorney General to prosecute offenders or risk being reported to the international criminal court in The Hague Netherlands so the relevant military commanders responsible for these killings are prosecuted for crimes against humanity.