By Emmanuel Afonne
Abuja – A joint committee of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights have urged the National Assembly (NASS) to recommend adequate compensation and recognition for troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East.
The call was made in Abuja in a report of preliminary findings submitted to the leaderships of NASS after investigation on allegations of human rights abuse made against the Nigerian military by some foreign media organisations.
The committee while absolving the soldiers of wrong doing said the troops have approached the war on insurgency with international standards on human rights and as such deserved to be compensated to serve as source of motivation and encouragement to others.
Chairman of the committee, Dr Isaac Dikko, said the committee sacrificed a lot during the investigation because of national security.
Dikko stated: “if not for the interest of national security, nobody would dare to have a committee secretariat situate in the North-East for firsthand information given the low and gloomy media reportage of the military successes in the region especially by foreign media organisations.
“It is also to fact check if the war against insurgency is being truly successfully prosecuted.
“Unknown to us like majority of Nigerians, a lot of successes have been made in the war against insurgency in the North East.
“The only challenge is resettlement, rehabilitation and rebuilding of infrastructure hitherto destroyed; but this is beyond military mandate and will take time,” he said.
According to the chairman, the committee dared the region with double pronged view to validate or invalidate the allegations against the military authorities and censor the activities of the non-governmental organisations operations in the North-East.
This, he said was to come up with facts that are verifiable.
The report was coordinated by a foreign NGO, the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Foundation Nepal.
Senior Programme Officer for the foundation, Rev. Solomon Semaka noted that their involvement in the committee’s fact finding mission was to ensure that the interest of NGOs and media organisations were represented and given fair hearing.
He acknowledged on behalf of NGOs that the representations in the report were fair given the glaring evidence and testimonies the committee received.
Semaka said: “One of my lowest points and greatest shocker as a development worker, whose interest in the committee was to protect NGOs was when a medical doctor and Staff member of ACTION AGAINST HUNGER (AAH), one of the NGOs working in the North-East region, confessed before the committee that truly, they offer random treatment and provide food to wounded insurgents.
“However, under cross examination, he admitted that the action was not their major purpose in the North-East.”
Semaka rejected the confession of the doctor that they offer medical assistance to the insurgents just to protect themselves.
The committee therefore recommended to the NASS “that issues of human rights abuse are subjective, and that the National Assembly leadership submit in clear terms expulsion as a punishment for erring Non-Governmental organisations in the country.
The committee also demanded that the National assembly Leadership legalise the auditing of non-governmental organisations by security agencies and also invite “Action Against Hunger and Amnesty International with a view to answer why they should not be banned from operating within the Nigerian territory. (NAN)