THE Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has petitioned Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff, over serious allegations of sexual molestation of girls in Aba, Abia State by the Nigerian army. They alleged that the army used force on civilians unjustly.
The group reminded the army chief of his solemn pledge to respect the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms of the citizens.
In a statement, HURIWA says it has asked the army chief to act swiftly to investigate these allegations because these atrocious criminal acts of some of the operatives on internal security operations are tarnishing his hard-earned good image as a no-nonsense officer. “We have just deliberated for three hours and as a body, we have decided to send to the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai a strong WORDED petition to draw his attention to the cases and reports of gross human rights violations by soldiers posted to Aba in Abia state on internal security operations under the Operation Crocodile smile.
“We got reports from our members in Aba, Abia state of serious violations of the fundamental dignity of the HUMAN persons against many girls by soldiers manning checkpoints just as we have received reports of sexual harassment of girls by soldiers in Aba, Abia state. These actions if verified are direct violations of the Constitution because chapter 4 of the Constitution contains the entire body of fundamental human rights, including the Right to the dignity of the HUMAN person, Right to freedom from torture, Right to life and freedom of movement.
“These persistent reports of sexual attacks against younger persons of the female gender must be thoroughly investigated and the soldiers responsible for such heinous crimes against humanity should face the internal mechanisms of judicial sanctions within the Nigerian Army as a matter of urgency and this is to assure the international community of the commitments of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai that the armed forces will continue to respect and protect human rights during operations, knowing the consequences of its violation,” it said.
HURIWA affirmed that Buratai has stated clearly that the issue of human rights has assumed greater responsibility, not only among the armed forces, but indeed all actors that are involved, especially in security and its management. “We understand the consequences of human rights violation. Ordinarily, our rules of engagement are aimed at protecting the lives and property of individual; we will do everything possible within the rules of law, constitutional provision, we will not deviate from that.”
The group recalled that Buratai has on many occasions informed Nigerians that if there were complaints of human rights violation against personnel, such complaints were investigated and where necessary, those involved were either court-martialed or charged to court just as the Rights group said the decision of the group to personally write the Army’s head was because of the need for the operatives of the Nigerian Army to be compelled by their superiors not to continue to engage in professional misconduct and indiscipline that graphically paints Nigeria before the International Community as a nation without rules and regulations.
HURIWA also called on the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army to allow civil society groups to monitor the internal military operations of the Nigerian Army in Oyigbo in Rivers state to ascertain the true state of affairs there, following spiraling accusations that soldiers are engaging in ethnic profiling of Igbo residents and systematically carrying out pogroms, following the recent killing of some soldiers by suspected members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra. IPOB.
The group condemned the public statements of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, saying that it violates all known laws against hate speech by playing up the erroneous impression that IPOB is purely Igbo or that IPOB speaks and works for the over 60 million Igbo ethnic nationals. It warned the Rivers State’s government to respect the Constitution by arresting and bringing citizens accused of committing any crime no matter how grievous before the Courts of law rather than play up ethnic sentiments and hate speech targeting and castigating Igbo speaking people of Nigeria.
“It is the hate speech by governor Wike that has created an atmosphere of mutual suspicion against the Nigerian Army and this is why there are allegations of ethnic profiling against Igbo by the Nigerian Army on the prompting of the Rivers State’s governor, who has not managed the crises as much as a statesman should. Rivers State governor needs to be tolerant of all other ethnic groups not indigenous to his state, but who are legitimately engaged in meaningful business. The Rivers State’s governor has poured petrol into the fire literally which is why there are fears and general atmosphere of panic that soldiers are killing young Igbo youth.”
Nov 2, 2020 @ 18:55 GMT