The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has assured the Nigerian Army that the report of the Special Independent Investigation Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter-Insurgency Operations in the North East Nigeria will be widely publicised as soon as the report is ready.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Dr. Tony Ojukwu who stated this when he received a delegation of the Nigerian Army led by the Acting Director Legal Services, Brigadier-General Saidu Inaboya noted that the ongoing investigation panel was set up to investigate the Reuters report will make its reports public once investigation is concluded.
He said the proceedings at the panel are well publicised except when testimonies of whistle blowers are involved. He assured the Nigerian Army and indeed members of the public that there is a very high level of transparency in all that the Commission does.
The Chief Human Rights Officer in Nigeria however regretted that Reuters, the foreign Media Organization that published a four-part report alleging gross human rights violations against the Nigerian Army in the North East has refused to honour the invitation extended to them by the Investigation Panel .
“The refusal by Reuters to come to the Panel raises some integrity issues against them because it is not enough to raise allegations against anybody or institution of the government like the Nigerian Army only for them to run away”, he added.
Dr. Ojukwu opined that Reuters should be made to account for their actions considering the time and resources being expended in investigating the allegations if at the end of the day the report of the Panel exonerates the Nigerian Army.
The Executive Secretary used the opportunity to emphasize on the imperatives of human rights training for Officers and Men of the Nigerian Army, pointing out that the impact such training is making on the operations of the Army is “unquantifiable”.
The Human Rights Advocate recalled that in 2012/2013 there was much profiling of citizens due to the high level of insurgency but with the efforts of the Nigerian Army in mainstreaming human rights in its operations things have changed for good.
The legal luminary stated that the ultimate mandate of the Military and the National Human Rights Commission majorly borders on protection of the Citizens from all forms of attacks and Violations, which according to him, explains why the two institutions should continue to deepen the existing partnership.
He therefore recommended more training for the Human Rights Desk Officers in the Nigerian Army to enable them to develop more capacity to even prevent violations from happening.
Earlier in his speech, the Nigerian Army delegation led by Brigadier General Saidu Inaboya Musa appealed to the Commission to ensure the protection of Officers and Men of the Army who he noted are vulnerable in the course of their duties of defending the territorial integrity of the nation.
According to the Army Officer, it is critical that the Nigerian Army and the NHRC continue to work together to achieve more successes because the mandate of both institutions are germane to the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria as a Nation.
He noted that recent report by Reuters accusing the Nigerian Army of a systemic programme of abortions among other things, is a psychological operation orchestrated by the Media Group to dampen and weaken the morale of Officers and Men of the Nigerian Army who are currently fighting insurgency in the North East Nigeria.
He requested that adequate publicity be given to the report of the investigation into allegations of human rights violations made against the Nigerian Army by Reuters so that the public will know the truth.