Boko Haram: Military commits 600 extra-judicial killings, says Amnesty
•Report wrong, says DHQ
The Amnesty International yesterday implicated the Nigerian military in the extra-judicial killing of over 600 in the North-East, especially Maiduguri and Bama.
The AI also said it is in possession of video footage, images and testimonies to back up its claim.
The organization also indicted the military for the killing of 33 people, including the children of a Shiite cleric, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, during a procession some days ago in Zaria.
It demanded impartial and independent probe of extra-judicial executions in the country.
But the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday faulted the findings of the AI.
The AI however gave its verdict in a statement in Abuja on what appeared about a four-month survey of the North East.
The statement said: “Gruesome video footage, images and testimonies gathered by Amnesty International provide fresh evidence of war crimes, including extrajudicial executions, and other serious human rights violations being carried out in North-Eastern Nigeria as the fight by the military against Boko Haram and other armed groups intensifies.
“The footage, obtained from numerous sources during a recent trip to Borno state, reveals graphic evidence of multiple war crimes being carried out in Nigeria.
“More than 4,000 people have been killed this year alone in the conflict by the Nigerian military and Boko Haram, including more than 600 extra-judicially executed following the Giwa Barracks attack on 14 March in Maiduguri.
The Defence Headquarters yesterday faulted a report of the Amnesty International on alleged extra-judicial executions by troops the North-East, especially Borno State.
It said the scenes depicted in the videos released by AI were alien to the operations and doctrines of the Nigerian military.
It however said it has raised a team of legal and forensic experts to study the videos released by AI to identify those behind the executions.
It vowed to take legal action against any personnel or anyone found culpable in accordance with the provisions of the law.
The Director of Defence Information, Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, who made the clarifications in a statement in Abuja, said the Nigerian military cannot condone any action or inaction that tramples on the right to life of any Nigerian
The statement said: “The Nigerian military takes the issue of Human Rights seriously and will never condone any proven case of abuse by its personnel. Military authorities are deeply concerned about the set of video footage being circulated and which unfortunately has also become reference data for Amnesty International in its report.
“Much as the scenes depicted in these videos are alien to our operations and doctrines, it has to be investigated to ensure that such practices have not crept, surreptitiously into the system.
“The Defence Headquarters considers these allegations too grievous to be associated with Nigerian troops, considering the doctrinal and operational contents of the training imparted to personnel on a continuous basis; emphasizing the importance of respect for Human Rights and dignity of human person as well as observance of humanitarian laws.
“Notwithstanding the cases of impersonations that have pervaded the counter-terrorism operations in Nigeria and many other related issues which cast doubts on the claims made in the video, the military authorities view those grave allegations very seriously, more so as it borders on the integrity of the ongoing counter-terrorism operation, which must be sustained in the interest of our national survival.”
The DHQ said a team of senior officers and legal cum forensic experts had been set up to probe the allegations and examine the videos with the AI.
The statement added: “Consequently, the Defence Headquarters in addition to the already existing Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has constituted a team of senior officers and legal cum forensic experts to study the video footage and the resultant allegations of infractions in order to ascertain the veracity of the claims with a view to identifying those behind such acts.
“ This will further determine and stimulate necessary legal action against any personnel or anyone found culpable in accordance with the provisions of the law.
“The Nigerian Armed Forces cannot condone any action or inaction that tramples on the right to life of any Nigerian.
“The ultimate objective of Nigeria’s counter-terrorism operation is the complete cessation of the heinous and barbaric activities of the terrorists and to stamp out every vestige of terrorism in our country with the application of international best practices in such operations.
“It will therefore, be absurd for the Nigerian Armed Forces as an institution to perpetrate such unprofessional acts in the manner and level depicted in that video as alleged by Amnesty International. Indeed, that level of barbarism and impunity has no place in the Nigerian military.
“Respect for the sanctity of life is always boldly emphasized in our doctrinal trainings. It must thus be reiterated that the Nigerian military is a very well organized professional body of troops whose conducts in war and peace times are guided comprehensively by law.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria is conscious of the nation’s obligation to observe all rules, regulations and commitments in all activities, and wishes to reassure all Nigerians, the civil societies and the international community that it will not encourage or condone any form of human rights violation as depicted in the said video.”
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