Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse Commission: Dead On Arrival And Red Carded By Nigerians

(Intersociety Nigeria, 18th August 2017)-The barrage of attacks and

condemnations trailing the constitution and inauguration of Acting

President Yemi Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse probe panel, which Mr.

Acting President called “Independent Judicial Commission of Enquiry”;

are not surprising to the leadership of Int’l Society for Civil

Liberties and the Rule of Law.
The Acting President’s military rights abuse probe panel in all

intents and purposes including its composition, membership and modus

operandi, is dead on arrival and can best be described as “a fire-

brigade approach and a makeshift probe commission with already written

script and predetermined outcome”.
In other words, the real intent behind the setting of the Commission

is to confer “an immunity of impunity” to the committers of heinous

regional and international human rights crimes; with most of the

atrocity personnel drawn from the serving senior members of the

Nigerian security forces particularly the Nigerian Army and the

Nigeria Police Force.
The “Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse Panel” has since its

constitution and inauguration on 4th and 15th August 2017 been awash

with informed attacks, condemnations and criticisms especially from

leading local and international rights groups and major web and social

media players and commentators.
Our Organization (Intersociety) had in its 11th August 2017 statement,

condemned strongly the way and manner the probe panel was unilaterally

set up by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo without recourse to wide and

proper consultations especially from the identified victims’ groups

and specific rights organizations and issuers of the reports under

complaint.
We had also raised a serious question mark concerning the independence

and integrity of members of the probe panel; especially owing to the

fact that most of them are widely believed to be known unrepentant

apologists of the Buhari Administration, or personal friends of the

key serving members of the Administration. A good number of the

Osinbajo’s probe panel members have also served in the previous

makeshift panels which all exonerated and cleared the top security

personnel indicted in the rights groups and other research bodies’

reports. The link to our referenced statement is provided here:

http://www.intersociety-ng.org/component/k2/item/273-2017-08-11-09-52-45

The Chair of the Panel (Justice Justice Biobele Georgewill of the Port

Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal), for instance, is strongly

believed to be a close ally of former Governor Rotimi Amechi, who

presently is a Minister in Buhari/Osinbajo Administration. He is also

said to be a denominational brethren of the Acting President in their

Redeemed Xian Church. A case also abounds where members of the

previous disgraced probe panels are also made members of the present

“Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse Panel or Commission”. The

eligibility and legitimacy problem of the Osinbajo’s Rights probe

Commission is further compounded by the denial of the victims’ groups

(Shiites and pro Biafra groups) representative slots, while the

Nigerian Army is allowed to be represented in the Commission by

Patrick Akem-a serving Major General in the Nigerian Army.

A clear case in point is the inclusion of Mr. Wale Fapohunda as a

member of the present panel. He was a member of the disgraced

“Nigerian Army’s Special Board of Enquiry”; which had in its watery

report of 15th June 2017 claimed that “nobody was killed in the pro

Biafra violent protests in Southeast Nigeria”. The likes of Ms Hauwa

Ibrahim, Mr. Jibrin Ibrahim and Ms Ifeoma Nwakama as members of the

present Osinbajo’s probe panel are also questionable. They are widely

believed to be strong allies or apologists of the Buhari/Osinbajo

Administration.
Another strong condemnation of the “Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse

Panel” came from the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), which

had in its statement of 15th August 2017 called for immediate

disbandment of the said probe panel or commission for lacking

credibility and independence. HURIWA’s statement is provided in this

link: http://newsexpressngr.com/news/42557-Military-probe-panel-lacks-credibility-says-HURIWA .

Amnesty International had also on 5th August 2017 reacted to the

setting up of the Osinbajo Military Rights Abuse Probe Panel with

tactical misgivings. The international rights body had in a statement

titled: Nigeria: Long Overdue Commission to Probe Human Rights

Violations; called on the government to ensure that the commission is

independent, impartial and free from any conflict of interest that may

affect the integrity of its work. Ensuring that the commission has the

resources to carry out its work and making its terms of reference

public can bring transparency. AI’s statement is contained here:

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/08/nigeria-long-overdue-judicial-commission-to-probe-human-rights-violations-is-set-up/

Sadly and shockingly, despite these criticisms, condemnations and

attacks, the Acting President who single handedly or unilaterally set

up the probe panel is unmoved; likewise members of the Commission who

have also refused to resign from the leprous probe panel owing to

serious question marks in their integrity and the independence and

impartiality of the Commission. The Commission headed by Justice

Biobele Georgewill has even gone ahead to issue a statement, calling,

among other things, for the “submission of memoranda within two

weeks”.
The statement issued by one Haliru Suleiman (Secretary to the

Presidential Investigation Panel) further added that “ it will hold

its public hearing in Abuja from September 7 to October 6 and that the

“affected persons, institutions and interested members of the public

should submit their memorandum within two weeks, through the

Presidency, Special Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the

Government of the Federation, for the attention of the secretary of

the panel” and that “ soft copies of the memorandum are to be

submitted to [email protected] ”.
Apart from the “Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse Probe Panel” being

dead on arrival, it has also been red carded by Nigerians especially

by most, if not all the victims’ groups and other critical

stakeholders including issuers of the rights abuse reports.

Investigations carried out by our organization following the

inauguration of the so called “Independent Judicial Commission of

Enquiry” showed that the Panel is totally red carded by critical

victims’ groups such as IPOB/MASSOB and most families of their slain,

tortured, maimed and disappeared members. Shiite Muslims or IMN who

lost over 1000 members have also expressed serious misgivings over the

Panel’s composition, independence and integrity.

To the extent that the Commission sits in the comfort of its

air-conditioned office in Abuja and dishes out orders to victims’

families that have been brutally impoverished, depressed, degraded,

humiliated, oppressed, suppressed, defiled, assaulted and morally

deformed by the criminal and atrocious State actors; by commanding

them to “come and submit their memoranda within two weeks”, is a clear

case of heartlessness, complicity and proxy crimes against humanity.

It also depicts a handiwork of scripted probe panel determined and

desperate to carry out its presidentially written scrip or conferment

of “immunity of impunity” to the regime criminals and their heinous

crimes or atrocities.
A humane, considerate and conscientious (heinous) human rights

violations panel or commission does not need to be reminded that the

victims’ families have lost fathers/ breadwinners, children, mothers,

cousins, nephews, grandparents, etc; all on account of the killing,

disappearance, torture and wounding of their loved ones. Many of their

children have dropped out of schools; with some of their wives

resorted to war-era like prostitution or corporate prostitution in

order to survive while some others have virtually become beggars. Some

parents and wives of these slain and disappeared have also died as a

result of shocks following the death and disappearance of their loved

ones in the hands of the Nigerian security forces.
We, therefore, wonder where on earth the Osinbajo’s Military Rights

Abuse Panel or Commission expect these victims’ families to get huge

resources required for them to “compile in writing all information

regarding the killing, torture, wounding or disappearance of their

loved ones; in addition to videos and photos and duplicate them into

ten pairs with their manual and electronic submission mandatorily

expected within two weeks”.
The Panel must also tell Nigerians including the victims’ relatives or

survivors where they (victims’ relatives or survivors) are expected to

get millions of naira each to hire a lawyer or a team of lawyers to

appear before the Commission for the purpose of defending them and

handling the technical aspects of their cases. Where will the victims’

relatives or survivors further get millions of naira to pay for the

transport fares, hotel and feeding bills of their lawyers and

themselves in very expensive hotels and high cost of living in Abuja?

For instance, for each victim’s representative or survivor and two of

his or her associates especially from Southeast Nigeria; excluding his

or her lawyer, to fully participate in the proceedings of the

Commission in Abuja, during its 30 days public hearing session, he or

she will spend at least 2million. These include hotel bills for the

victim’s relative or survivor with his or her two associates, totaling

not less than N900,000 for 30 days, on N10,000 per day; N540,000 for

the trio’s feeding on N6,000 per day/person average; N60, 000 for a

round road trip of the trio from the East and the remaining N500,000

for local transport, etc. This conservative calculation is based on

assumption that the victim’s relative or survivor and his or her two

associates decide to travel once to Abuja in September for the case

and stay till second week of October. The N2million conservative cost

does not include lawyers’ fees.
If Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and his unilaterally constituted

Military Rights Abuse Probe Panel or Commission had meant well, the

Commission should have been structured in such a way as to make it

readily accessible and close to the victims’ relatives, survivors and

their lawyers or technical guardians. The Commission should have also

been totally devoid of armchair syndrome and strategically identified

and captured the victims’ families, survivors and locations as well as

their lawyers/technical guardians.
That is to say that the modus operandi of the Commission should have

been structured in such a way that it can easily move to Awka or

Onitsha (for the victims’ relatives and survivors of 2nd and 17th

December 2015 army killing of pro Biafra campaigners and 29th and 30th

May 2016 massacre of same in Nkpor, Onitsha and Asaba); Aba or

Umuahia (for 18th January , 29th January and 9th February 2016 massacre

of same in Aba); Port Harcourt (for 20th January 2017 pro Trump rally

killing of same); Zaria (for 12th-14th December 2015 massacre by the

Army of the Shiite Muslims); and Maiduguri or nearby safer city (for

17th January 2017 Rann IDP Camp bombing that killed 236 civilians as

well as other conflict zone war crimes in the Northeast as contained

in the AI and the HRW reports).
We hereby join the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria

(HURIWA) in calling for immediate disbandment of the “Osinbajo’s

Military Rights Abuse Panel or Commission” and setting up of proper

and all inclusive Federal Judicial Commission of Enquiry into gross

human rights violations in Nigeria; to be ratified by the Federal

Executive Council. The FEC should also direct the Attorney General of

the Federation to set up for its ratification the Special Criminal

Investigation Board of the Federal Government of Nigeria to criminally

investigate all the State actors fingered in the named dastardly

killings.
Signed:
For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Email: [email protected]
Miss Chinenye F. Akubuilo (LLB, BL)
Head, Campaign and Publicity Department
Miss Obianuju Joy Igboeli (LLB, BL)
Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law Program

en

SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)

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