The Nigerian government’s delay in making public a report on the military’s human rights record is an appalling affront to victims who are still waiting for justice, Amnesty International said today – one year after a presidential investigative panel started its work.
The Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement submitted its report in February 2018. Since then, Nigerians have been waiting for the full report and fulfilment of the promise made by President Buhari in June 2015 to end impunity and ensure justice for the victims of crimes under international law committed by the armed forces.
“When the panel finally commenced a year ago, many Nigerians took the brave step to testify, driven by their yearning for the truth to come out. Their efforts must not be in vain. It is time for the victims to see the result of the investigations,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“The government must make good on its promise and show its commitment to transparency and accountability by publishing the report and publicly revealing how it will ensure justice for victims.”
During the course of its investigations, the panel held public sittings in Abuja, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna and Lagos where it heard from victims and witnesses, who described a range of alleged violations by security forces, including extrajudicial executions, torture, rape, enforced disappearances and the burning down of villages.
“Far too many previous investigative panels and inquiries set up by the government ended nowhere, with no reports published to the public and little evidence of action taken by the government,” said Osai Ojigho.
Following reports by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations that the Nigerian military has been responsible for crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations across Nigeria, in August 2017 the then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo set up the Presidential Investigative Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement.
The panel held public sittings in Abuja, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna and Lagos from 11 September to 8 November 2017.
Amnesty International appeared before the panel in October 2017 and submitted a memorandum outlining the findings of its years of research relevant to the investigations. Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the government to set up impartial and independent investigations and urged that all findings must be made public.