Army Disruptive Roles In The 2019 Polls: The “Probe” Panel Is Designed For Failure & Self Exoneration; Lacks Credibility

By Intersociety
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Chima Ubani Center, Onitsha Nigeria: 16th March 2019)-As a research and investigative rights, democracy and public security campaigner or advocacy group led by criminologists, lawyers, peace and conflict resolution experts, specific and general rights activists, etc, the Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law can boldly and irrefutably tell all Nigerians and members of the int’l community; inclusive of UN, ICC, western democracy and int’l rights groups and research bodies that the recently constituted “Nigerian Army Probe Panel” for probing the gross misconducts of the Army personnel during the 2019 polls” is not only integrity and credibility challenged but also dead on arrival and designed to end in nothingness.

Dead on arrival because the “probe panel” will end up producing nothingness except self exoneration as was the case in the immediate past “Army probe panels or boards of enquiry”. Credibility and integrity challenged because the Army “probe panel” fundamentally lacks independence as it is constituted outside the confines or the hallowed natural law principles ofNemo judex in causa sua (or nemo judex in sua causa)-no one should be a judge in his own case and Audi alteram partem-fair hearing or let the other side justly be heard as well. It is well documented that the Nigerian Army under COAS Tukur Buratai has earned notoriety in recent times by “being a judge in its own case”; thereby fueling impunity among its personnel and making them chronic repeat-offenders and outlaws.

It is recalled that the Army had through its integrity challenged COAS announced the setting up of a nine-member “Army probe panel”. The “probe panel” was inaugurated on 15th March 2019 with Major General TA Gagariga, as its head while Brig Gen JM Ali, Brig Gen GO Adeshina, Brig Gen MA Obari, Col AT Bitiyong, Col A Tanko and Col WA Bakare were named as members and Lt Col PAJ Ebuk as Secretary. The so called “probe panel” was inaugurated on behalf of the COAS by the Chief of Administration, Major General KAY Isiyaku with bogus terms of reference and given 31st March 2019 as a date for its wind up and submission of report.

Apart from the fact that the “Army probe panel” is dead on arrival and fundamentally lacks independence, credibility and integrity; the panel is also nothing short of cover up and self exonerative arrangement designed at shielding the Army and its personnel from regional and international condemnation, damnation and reparative and criminal justice accountability; all in connection with gross misconducts of its personnel during the just held 2019 general polls. The despicable role of the Army personnel during the controversial poll has dominated the local and international topics including those of the international poll observers.

The self serving probe panel is also an attempt at undermining the international law principle of complementarity and no impunity.To cap it all, the “probe panel”, like those in the immediate past, is seeking protective immunity for the perpetrated misconducts and their perpetrators as well as impunity to engage in further atrocious conducts including those already designed to be let loose on voters on 23rd March scheduled “conclusion of the inconclusive six State governorship polls” and Rivers State where the governorship poll was totally put on hold till date.

By setting up an integrity challenged probe panel, it deceitfully implies that the Nigerian Army is seeking “point blank” evidence before it can do the needful (fish out its culpable personnel for severe punishments). This is more so when it is a popular knowledge that out of the three existing types of evidence: point blank, hearsay and circumstantial, the latter powered by ICT components is unassailably acceptable both in specific and general global jurisdictions.

The self serving Army probe panel is obviously seeking to defy the available and unassailable documentary evidence including verified audios, pictures, videos and paper reports particularly those compiled by the international poll observers and those obtained through satellite images and drones. These can easily be verified and worked on by the Army using the necessary ICT tools and techniques including software used in dictating the incident dates, times and locations; not self serving and exonerative gimmicks designed to deceive and mislead Nigerians and escape culpability.

This is more so when the same Nigerian Army, if truly “Nigerian Army”, had earlier denied playing dastardly roles during the said polls particularly in Rivers State, saying “those caught wearing army uniforms are hired political thugs”; yet it has turned around to set up “a probe panel” investigating itself. The Army further reprobated by admitting and asking the “probe panel” to investigate “the circumstances that led to the shooting to death of Lieutenant Kurmi as well as that leading to serious injuries to an officer and some soldiers in Rivers State”.

It logically follows that “since those wearing army uniforms are hired political thugs and not military personnel then those that got killed or shot and injured including Lt Kumi must also have been hired political thugs in army uniforms and not personnel of the Nigerian Army”. We are not surprised because totality of the above has been the case with the supposedly secular but presently Islamic logo bearing Nigerian Army especially since July 2015 when Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai was made the Chief of Army.

Also going by the sole Islamic symbol with which the logo of the Nigerian Army is presently attached, secular minded Nigerians and international others are prayed to ask Lt Gen Buratai if the Nigerian Army is now “an Islamic or jihadist Army of Nigeria”. The current Nigerian Army logo is openly downloaded and attached below for public perusal.

It must be emphasized that one of the tragedies of the present central Government of Nigeria which came on board on 29thMay 2015 is bastardization and balkanization of the mainstream human rights community in Nigeria particularly those operating in the Southwest region of Nigeria. Also one of the factors responsible for the unchecked atrocities of the Lt Gen Buratai led Nigerian Army in recent times that has further facilitated impunity and repeat perpetration is the conspiratorial role of some “human rights activists”; particularly those drawn from the Southwest axis, the National Human Rights Commission and the FCT.

It is too bad and worrisome that delegation of the Nigerian Army is now being reportedly led to the ICC and other international quarters and guided in their legal defense by some “human rights activists”, to the extent that a certain figure known in Nigeria’s rights circle was among those that reportedly accompanied a military delegation to the ICC sometime in 2018. The military delegation was reportedly led by a “learned Brig Gen” and a band of “human rights activists”. The delegation was reportedly in The Hague to explain the role of same in petitions pending against same at the ICC.

Totality of the above clearly explains how rotten the Nigerian Human Rights Community and activism have become; where “human rights defenders” have turned around and become “defenders of the oppressors and genocidists”. It is so bad that whenever the Military is strongly accused of perpetrating heinous crimes or engaging in gross misconducts such as industrial scale rights abuses, it is the same “human rights activists” that would first rise in their defense including being flown to Europe or Americas to submit pro military petitions or rent a crowd of protesters or organize media conferences or television personality programs or flood newspaper columns, social and web media platforms with pro military articles, etc.

These moles in the Nigerian Human Rights Community have severally aided or colluded with the Nigerian Military in the mass killing and maiming of unarmed and defenseless Nigerians in their thousands particularly since after July 2015. Some of them deliberately launch attacks on the military establishments especially during or after the release of the research or investigative reports by respected local and international rights bodies; all done for purposes of getting the contractual attention of the military leadership. And once the contractual attention is secured, such conformist or compromised “rights groups” would turncoat and mount well oiled defensive campaigns for the same military establishments and their leaders especially the accused.

Further, Nigerians and others have also not forgotten so soon the outcomes of the immediate past military panels including Army/NHRC panel on Shiite massacre of 2016, the Army Board of Enquiry into Human Rights Abuses including killing of Pro Biafra activists of 2017 and the Federal Government Judicial Panel of Enquiry into Army Rights Abuses of 2017. In these panels, the outcomes were utterly self exonerative leading to shielding of the perpetrators; to the extent that till date, no single Army officer or soldier has been fished out, tried and convicted over the genocidal atrocities above mentioned. In all the named military kangaroo enquiries, moles within the Rights Community were recruited and used, leading to recent appointment of one of them to the top position at the NHRC.

In the Shiite massacre panel report, for instance, “seventeen persons were shot and killed (over 700 died) and the Army acted in self defense and the COAS was not to be held accountable”. In the Army Board of Enquiry report, “no single pro Biafra activist was killed on 29thand 30th May 2016 or in the previous months and Gov Obiano of Anambra State told us that nobody was killed”. In the Federal Government Judicial Panel on alleged Army Rights Abuses, it has been swept under the carpet till date. And in the Shiite killing of October 2018 with over 50 deaths, “only six persons were killed and the Army acted in self defense and did not use rubber bullets because the Army does not have rubber bullets”. With the above said, the recent Army “probe panel” will also go the way of others.

For: For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chair
Mobile/WhatsApp Line: +2348174090052
Email: [email protected]

Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq.
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Email: [email protected]
Chidinma Evan Udegbunam, Esq.
Head, Campaign & Publicity
Email: [email protected]

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