Chris Olukolade, a major-general and director, defence information, says there is no justification for Amnesty International’s allegation of human rights abuses against former and current military chiefs
| By Olu Ojewale | Jun 4, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE Nigerian Defence Headquarters has described allegations made by the Amnesty International against some senior military officers serving and retired of the Nigerian Armed Forces as blackmail.
Chris Olukolade, a major-general and director, defence information, in a statement issued in Abuja, on Thursday, June 4, said it was unfortunate that AI had continued to blackmail Nigerian military hierarchy since the inception of military’s action against terrorist in the North East.
“The officers mentioned in the report have no reason, whatsoever, to indulge in the allegation made against them. It is unfortunate that the organisation just went out to gather names of specified senior officers, in a calculated attempt to rubbish their reputation as well as the image of the military. The action, no doubt, depicts more of a premeditated indictment aimed at discrediting the country for whatever purpose,” Kolade’s statement said.
The military, therefore, advised AI to stop playing the role of “an irritant” even as the country has started winning the war against insurgents.
The AI had in a report entitled: “Stars on their shoulders, blood on their hands: War crimes committed by the Nigerian military,” called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands, to investigate some former and serving Nigerian service chiefs for war crimes. According to the AI, the crimes were perpetrated during the fight against Boko Haram in the North-East between March 2011 and 2014.
The organisation alleged that no fewer than 8,000 persons were “murdered, starved, suffocated and tortured to death” in the North-East during the period.
The AI which presented its report in Abuja on Wednesday, June 3, through Netsanet Belay, its African director, Research and Advocacy, and Anna Neistat, senior director of Research, said that it had “compelling evidence” for the investigation of the former and serving service chiefs as well as “mid-level and senior-level military commanders.”
The AI specifically mentioned Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, a former chief of Army Staff; Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, former chief of Defence Staff; Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, chief of Defence Staff, and Gen. Kenneth Minimah, chief of Army Staff, among the nine senior military figures that should be investigated for their command and individual roles in the commission of the crimes.
The AI report further alleged that since March 2011, more than 7,000 young men and boys died in military detention while no fewer than 1,200 people were unlawfully killed in February 2012.
The AI report said in part: “We call on President Buhari to end the culture of impunity that has blighted Nigeria, and for the African Union and international community to encourage and support these efforts. As a matter of urgency, the president must launch an immediate and impartial investigation into the crimes detailed in the report and hold all those responsible to account, no matter their rank or position. Only then can there be justice for the dead and their relatives.”