Amnesty report: Army clears officers of war crimes





The Nigerian Army yesterday exonerated some retired senior army officers indicted by Amnesty International (AI) in its report on war crimes during internal security operations in the Northeast.

The AI in its report had alleged cases of arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, torture, forced disappearance and extrajudicial executions against some senior military officers.

AI had demanded an extensive investigation by the Nigerian military and suggested that affected officers face charges bordering on the doctrine of command responsibility.

The Nigerian Army, Chief of Civil Military Affairs Army Headquarters, Major General Nuhu Angbazo told journalists yesterday in Abuja, that the officers have been cleared of the alleged crimes following findings of a Special Board of Inquiry.

He said the allegations led to the withdrawal and denial of USA and UK visas to some serving and retried senior officers, which also necessitated a comprehensive investigation at the request of the United State government.

Angbazo, who presented highlights of the report, said findings showed mostly that due to a lack of forensic evidence, the board was unable to substantiate the allegations.

Those indicted by AI for alleged war crimes of murder, force disappearance and torture include; Major General John Ewansiha (rtd), who was GOC of Ops Restore Order I.

Others are: Major General Obida Ethan (rtd) who was Commander 7 Div. Major General Ahmadu Mohammed, who was also Commander 7 Div. And Major General Austin Edokpayi, who was Commander of the MNJTF based in Baga.

Others are; Brig Gen RO Bamigboye (rtd) who was commander 21 Armed Brigade (stationed in Giwa Barracks).

AI had also asked that some former Service Chiefs be investigated and charged over alleged war crimes.

They include; Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, former Army Chief, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, former Defence Chief, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, also a former Defence Chief and Lt Gen KTJ Minimah a former Army Chief.

General Angbazo said the board found that in all the detention facilities visited, Boko Haram detainees were not informed about their Miranda Rights nor allowed access to legal representation.

He said the board noted that right to counsel is so fundamental to basic fairness that should be recognized, even with respect to terrorism cases and enemy combatants.

Source: Ronald Mutum - Daily Trust
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