Amnesty International said President Muhammadu Buhari had betrayed victims of human rights abuses by not releasing the report of the panel set up to review the compliance of the Nigerian armed forces with rules of engagement and human rights requirements.
The eight-man Presidential Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement was inaugurated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in August 2017 and chaired by Biobele Georgewill, Justice of the Court of Appeal. It submitted its report to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018.
The Director, Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said the failure of the Nigerian authorities to disclose the report of the panel which he described as an important first step towards justice, was a shameful betrayal of the victims and another marker of the lack of political will by Nigerian authorities to bring alleged perpetrators to justice.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, was yet to reply to a text message sent to his mobile line after unanswered phone calls at press time.
“The failure of Nigerian authorities to release the report of the Presidential Panel that purportedly investigated compliance of armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement, three years after the report was submitted to the President is a gross display of contempt for victims,” Ojigho said.
Ojigho in a statement released by the organisation’s media manager described the action of the government as an abysmal failure and a devastating setback for rule of law that only perpetuates the culture of impunity which is so pervasive in Nigeria.
“Many Nigerians showed incredible courage to testify to the panel, in the hope that, in the end it will lead to justice. But three years is so long and too long for victims to continue waiting for the release of the panel’s report; which is a key step to justice for victims.
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“We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill the promise he made in 2015 to end impunity by immediately releasing the report. Victims and the larger public in Nigeria deserve to see and scrutinize the findings,” the statement read.
“Previous such investigations have ended up without any tangible outcome on the side of justice. Nigerian authorities must ensure that the country’s security forces comply with international law obligations and ensure prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigations of all allegations of violations.
“Hundreds of victims and witnesses described horrific violations committed by Nigeria’s security forces, including rape, torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and razing of villages and homes during public hearings organized by the Panel in Abuja, Enugu, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, and Lagos,” the statement read.