Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has set up a nine-man panel to probe allegations of rights abuses against the nation’s armed forces, especially those emanating from the fight against insurgency in the northeastern part of the country.
Panel is headed by Justice Biobele Geogrewill with other members being, representative of the armed forces, Maj. Gen. Patrick Akem, Olawale Fapohunda, Hauwa Ibrahim, Jibrin Ibrahim.
Also appointed into the panel include Mr. Abba A. Ibrahim, Ifeoma Nwakama, Dr. Fatima Alkali who is expected to serve as the counsel to the Panel as well as S. Halliru.
Speaking while swearing members in at the presidential villa on Friday, Osinbajo said, “It is the responsibility of the armed forces and those of us in government to ensure that we interrogate our own activities and ensure that those activities meet up to human rights norms and basic rules of decency observed across the world.”
The Acting President explained that the series of allegations levied against the security agencies in the course of duty necessitated the setting up of the panel.
“Indeed conventional human rights norms and conventional human rights observers are challenged by various nuances of asymmetric warfare. Nonetheless, there are series of allegations levied against security forces by some local and international commentators….. the allegations are capable of undermining the good works and efforts of the men and women of the armed forces who have largely conducted themselves in a disciplined and professional manner,” he stated.
He reiterated that the focus of the Buhari administration goes beyond the constitutional duties of protecting lives of the Nigerians citizens.
According to him, “for our government we add that respect for the lives of Nigerian citizens is not just a constitutional but also moral duty. This is why it is incumbent upon us even as we maintain security especially in conflict situations, to interrogate alleged crimes and human rights abuses by all sides of this conflicts and insurgencies.
“Today’s occasion is a continuation of the efforts of this administration geared towards attaining its goal. You may recall that in June, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the military to conduct an internal inquiry into allegations of rights abuses by its personnel.
Osinbajo also praised the Nigerian military saying “it is also a well – known fact that the conduct of the country’s defence and security forces during insurgency in the North East and militancy in the Niger Delta has in recent times attracted significant commendations.
While charging members of the panel to discharge their duties diligently, impartially and with all sense of professionalism, the Acting President urged them to also collect information about the conditions of service of the armed forces or any other factors that might have hindered the optimal performance.