Throwing its advocacy weight behind the recent extensive investigation by Amnesty International which uncovered widespread sexual violation and exploitation of internally displaced girls in the North East by the military, the Rights group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked government to stop living in shameful denial but to thoroughly investigate the massive allegations and punish offenders.
HURIWA wondered why Nigeria of the 21st century has institutionally continued to stick to old fashion obstinacy and empty deceits heavily embellished with false national pride instead of adopting and complying to World standards as practiced in all other nations belonging and subscribing to the time tested and time honoured global human rights laws and humanitarian mechanisms of resolving proven cases of Human Rights breaches.
HURIWA said: “we are seriously worried that since 1979 or thereabout when some unruly soldiers stormed the then ‘Kalakuta Republic’ shrine of the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti in Ojualegba Lagos State and slaughtered members of the audience and the mother of the musician, up until the recent extra-legal killings of hundreds of civilians belonging to the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) and Shiites Islamic movement, the Nigeria Army has refused to change and embrace the demands of professionalism to investigate damaging allegations through uncompromising mechanisms and apportion sanctions to indicted operatives appropriately in line with extant military and civilian laws against those who have committed grave human rights violations.”
In a statement made against the backdrop of the recent report by the United Kingdom founded international non-governmental organization- Amnesty International, indicting soldiers for compelling girls and women in the internally displaced persons’ camps in the North East of Nigeria to give them sexual gratifications in exchange for the relief materials donated by the federal government and international non-governmental bodies, HURIWA lamented that both the Civil and Military authorities have rejected the findings even before any form of government organized investigations are carried out.
The National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf said HURIWA is worried that the fundamental right to dignity of the human persons as constitutionally guaranteed, are wantonly thrown away to the dogs by the current Nigerian government in its irrational and fallacious bid to extend a clean bill of health to the military institution as if the military is made up of Angels who are infallible.
The Rights group reminded Nigeria this latest report of sexual abuses of innocent but displaced girls and women is the second to have been written by foreign Non-Governmental organizations, the first been the report on a wider scale done last year by the New York based Human Rights Watch just as it pleaded with government to stop disgracing Nigeria and do the needful.
“We hereby ask president Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to set up strong independent panels to be made up of Nigerians of unimpeachable characters to conduct broad based investigations including field interviews under conditions of strict confidentiality to uncover the veracity of these allegations made by Amnesty International based on its properly and scientifically conducted investigations and interviews with victims of these abuses who are Nigerian citizens with rights just like their indicted abusers whom this government has already given blanket absolution without probing the extensively damaging cases of sexual molestations with far reaching emotional and psychological implications for the victims if not comprehensively and transparently redressed.”
“On the part of the Nigerian Army, may we plead with the hierarchy to leave a legacy for the next generations by instituting a transformative world view of the Nigerian Army as a force that complies totally to global best practices and enforces strict adherence to the rule of law and respect for the fundamental human rights of all citizens.”
“Amnesty International wishes Nigeria well and is not affiliated to any political parties. Why the heightened state of animosity and sponsored campaign of calumny by street urchins as sponsored by the current federal administration? The government officials must live by their constitutional oaths of office to uphold all the necessary human rights safeguards and laws in Nigeria.”
Media reports quoted by HURIWA, indicated that Women and girls who have fled terrorist group Boko Haram are being raped by Nigerian soldiers, starved and forced to exchange food for sex, according to claims in a new report by human rights group Amnesty International.
HURIWA recalled that thousands of these women have died because of lack of food in camps for internally displaced people in Nigeria’s northeast after they were rescued from Boko Haram, Amnesty says.
HURIWA said that in the report titled “They betrayed us,” it is alleged that five women said they were raped by soldiers in late 2015 and early 2016 in a displacement camp in Bama, Borno state.
Regrettably, HURIWA recalled that the Nigerian army spokesman John Agim denied the allegations in the Amnesty report, branding them “propaganda.”
HURIWA quoted the Defence Spokesman as saying the army hasn’t been deployed to displacement camps, which he said are run by the police, local vigilante groups and NGOs. “I wonder where Amnesty interviewed women who said they saw soldiers in these camps hoarding food and raping women?” Agim asked.
HURIWA said the military’s media chief Mr. Agim accused the human rights group of republishing claims that had been investigated by the Nigerian government and had been found to be false.
HURIWA recalled that General At in had stated that: “Amnesty wrote the same allegations in a report in 2015 and it was investigated then and found not to be true. Why are they presenting them in 2018 after investigations? It is all propaganda and when they continue to propagate these reports, it assumes the property of truth when its not refuted,” Agim told CNN.
HURIWA recalled that the Army spokesperson affirmed also that “Amnesty does not want our war against terrorism to finish; the Nigerian military maintains this position,” he said. “Their reports on human right violations is to stop the selling of weapons to the Nigerian military by the American government and others and that approach is not working. The Nigerian army just rescued 1,000 Boko Haram captives, that is a good development, why is it not reflected in the report if they are being fair?” Agim added, in a media report seen by HURIWA.