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NHRC Seeks Stakeholders’ Cooperation In Unraveling Alleged Human Rights Violations In North East


Abuja, – The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday called for urgent support of all relevant stakeholders in its investigation into alleged human rights violations during counter-insurgency operations in the north-east.

The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu , SAN made the call at a stakeholders briefing on the activities of the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter-Insurgency Operations in the North-East.

He said a report by Reuters alleged series of systematic human rights violations targeted at women and children and more particularly alleging mass abortions and killings of women and children, by the Nigerian Military in its counter insurgency operations in the region.

” The Nigerian military has denied these allegations in its entirety and has openly submitted to an independent investigation of the report amidst increasing concerns raised by the international community.

” These concerns necessitated the commission to establish and inaugurate this investigative panel in line with her mandate under the National Human Rights Commission Act, 1995(As amended).

” We can all recall that the commission had previously setup various investigative panels such as the panel of enquiry on the Apo killings, the Baga killings.

“Also, the first and second independent investigative panels on human rights violations by SARS and other arms of the Nigeria Police Force, the Special Investigative panel on SGBV, Investigative panel on oil spillage in the Niger Delta, just to mention a few” he said.

According to Ojukwu, these panels executed their mandate without bias by carrying out investigations, into all the allegations that were brought before them.

He said they came up with their findings and made recommendations which were forwarded to the Federal Government on various punishments to be mete out on those violators found culpable.

Ojukwu said further recommendations for compensation from the Government and in some cases paid compensations Suo motto to victims who had legitimate cases.

” This panel will not be any different,” he said.

The commission, he said, inaugurated the panel on Feb. 8band the panel has since started its investigation in Maiduguri.

He said the panel recorded immense success and has received massive cooperation’s from the Nigerian Military and the state Government.

” The panel has however discovered that there are some gaps which can only be filled with cooperation from stakeholders, without which there would be a major challenge for the panel to adequately determine these alleged violations.

” Therefore, it is important at this juncture to state that the Panel and the Commission needs the support of all relevant stakeholders both at International, National and state levels” he said.

He said the commission needs the cooperation of all arms of the UN Systems, International NGOS, Civil society Organizations, and interest groups such as Nigerian Bar Associations and others to enable this panel record huge success in its investigation and fact finding mission.

Also speaking, retired Justice Abdu Aboki, Chairman of the panel called for support from stakeholders for the panel to fulfil its mandate.

” This stakeholder briefing will afford the panel an opportunity to brief stakeholders on the progress of the investigation so far as well as the challenges the panel has experienced while embarking on this important fact-finding mission.

” This consultation is an occasion to give a progress report on the investigation to our partners in the media, who are no doubt very eager to get to the bottom of the allegations made by Reuters.

” This briefing also provides the panel with a unique opportunity to solicit the support and cooperation of stakeholders in helping the panel to effectively deliver on its mandate.

“There can be no gainsaying the fact that the panel’s task is an enormous one, however, I can assure you that the panel is motivated by the importance of its assignment” he said.

The Secretary of the panel, Mr Hilary Ogbonna gave a rundown of the activities carried out by the panel and the new task ahead.

The international media organisation had alleged that the Military was involved in massacre of children as well as other Sexual and Gender Based Violence(SGBV) in the North East.

However, the Military has refuted the allegations saying that it was a ploy to malign the image of the Nigerian Armed Forces which has been at the forefront of the counter insurgency efforts in the North East.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor told the NHRC that the Military was willing and ready for any probe, particularly as it relates to the Reuter’s report.

NAN reports that other members of the panel are  Ms Kemi Okonyedo, representing Women Rights Organisation, Mr Azubuike Nwankenta, representing NBA.

Others are retired Maj.-Gen. Letam Wiwa, Military Law and Intelligence Expert); Dr Maisaratu Bakari (Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology (Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital Yola).

Others are Dr Fatima Akilu (Humanitarian Expert, representing Civil Society), and Ms Halima Nuradeen (Psychologist, representing Youths) and Mr Hilary Ogbonna as the secretary (NAN)

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