The “independant” panel tasked with investigating alleged War Crimes carried out by Nigeria’s Military released a summarized 16 page report on Thursday June 15th 2017, “officially” exonerating the country from any such allegations. Moreover, the report specifies that the panel will be dropping any and all investigations into wrongdoings allegedly carried out by senior officials of Nigeria’s military in relation to these events.
The origins of yesterdays report date back to a 2015 military campaign against Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast corridor of the country, during which humanitarian aid groups charged the Nigerian military with carrying out “extrajudicial killings, rape, the use of child soldiers and detentions of people without charge,” all of which would be considered War Crimes and/or crimes against humanity.
According to a 2015 report from Amnesty International, “the Nigerian military killed, starved, suffocated and tortured 8,000 people under the watch of certain senior officers.” Amnesty went on to say they assembled their report after “years of research and analysis of evidence – including leaked military reports and correspondence, as well as interviews with more than 400 victims, eyewitnesses and senior members of the Nigerian security forces.” Only after Amnesty International published this report and the international community reacted to it, did Nigeria’s President agree to assemble a military panel to investigate the War Crimes in question.
Summary from Amnesty Internationals 2015 Findings:
- More than 7,000 young men and boys died in military detention since 2012
- 1,200 people have been unlawfully killed since 2012
- Over 20,000 young men and boys have been arrested since 2009 without trial, thousands of which have ended up dying from malnutrition, unsanitary conditions and torture.
- In the month of June 2013 alone, more than 1,400 dead bodies were taken from one Nigerian detainment facility in Giwa.
- Over 4,700 dead bodies in total were taken from detainment facilities inside Nigeria in 2013.
- Hundreds of people have died in custody after being deprived of water
- More than 1,200 people have been extrajudicially executed by the Nigerian military since 2014
- Scores of detainees died as a result of facility fumigation, aka toxic gas
It is important to point out that the panel which exonerated Nigeria’s military was also comprised of members of Nigeria’s military. Their report on the matter also indicates that part of the reason the panel did not recommend bringing charges against senior officials was the fact that all of the officials named in the investigation have already moved on from military service and are now retired. Lastly, considering that this investigation surrounds Nigeria’s treatment of individuals suspected to belong to Boko Haram, it is to be somewhat expected that the country would choose to protect their own interests over the interests of suspected terrorists/criminals.
In response to the panels release yesterday, Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria said: “We stand by the findings of our research and our call for an investigation that is independent, impartial and thorough; criteria that this panel clearly does not meet. We maintain that the nine senior commanders named in our report should be the subject of an effective and independent investigation.”
Despite their differences of opinion on this matter, both the military panel and Amnesty International agree that a Presidential Commission to investigate any accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity must go forward and is the logistical next step. Osai Ojigho said that she welcomed the development of this commission, but added that Amnesty International is unsatisfied with the 16 page report released yesterday. She is currently putting pressure on the panel to release their official report in its entirety for the public record.