Borno, Yobe forum seeks probe of Boko Haram, armed forces

BokoHaram-GUNSFOLLOWING recent allegations by the Amnesty International (AI), a Maiduguri-based group, Borno/Yobe Elders Forum, has called on the Federal Government to without delay institute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to fully investigate and bring to book all individuals and groups found culpable in crime against humanity and human rights abuses.

In a statement made available to The Guardian, the group described what has been going on the North-East as despicable and reprehensible conduct.

The statement read: “We note that since the start of the insurgency, hundreds of our patriotic military and security personnel have lost their lives while scores have been maimed and injured in the course of serving our dear country. We commiserate with their families and extend deep condolences while wishing the injured quick recovery.

“We extend similar condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives as a result Boko Haram attacks or the excesses of the military, and wish the maimed and the injured speedy recovery. We appreciate the roles of individuals and groups in keeping the insurgency and its fall-out in the front-burner of national discourse.

“In the same vein, we call on the Federal Government not to relent in its renewed effort to combat insurgency which has become a national security nuisance and has assumed an international cross-border dimension.”

The group, however, reiterated that while the Amnesty report of June 3 confirmed what they have been saying for long, it failed to do complete justice, saying: “We in the Borno/Yobe Forum welcome the two reports by the Amnesty International as they are a confirmation of all that the forum and the elders of Borno and Yobe have consistently spoken on.

In another development, more than 100 civil society organisations under the aegis of Coalition of Nigerian Election Observers have condemned the recent Amnesty International’s report on civil rights abuses by the Nigerian military.

The coalition, while reacting to the reports during a courtesy visit on the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, not only charged the Senate to rise to the defence of the military but had also urged the upper chambers to condemn what it described as Amnesty’s ‘blatant act of irresponsibility’.

The spokesperson of the forum, who spoke on behalf of the group, Dr. Nwambu Gabriel, said: “As a coalition representing more than 100 local and international civil society organisations, we are concerned by the manner certain individuals and organisations seek to denigrate the efforts of the Nigerian military in its determined bid to stamp out the scourge of insurgency, which has ravaged the North-East of our country in the last six years.

“We refer specifically to the latest report of the global human rights group, the Amnesty International, which alleged that the Nigerian military had engaged on human rights abuses in the course of their duties.

“We believe that the Amnesty report, in addition to be a distraction of the Nigerian Armed Forces from its determination to extirpate the insurgents from Nigerian soil, is equally an attempt to denigrate the efforts of our gallant officers and men, who daily lay down their lives for our collective security.

“We therefore call on you and your esteemed colleagues in the Senate to not only condemn this blatant act of irresponsibility but also rise up in defence of gallant military.”

In his response, Ekweremadu noted that electioneering was over and it was time to face governance and also for the Senate to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption fight as well as other programmes he has for Nigerians.

“As I said, from the beginning, we have finished with politics, we are now ready for governance. We must begin to show statesmanship to ensure that once election is over, whether you win as governor, a local council chairman, a legislator or a President, what matters is for everybody to provide for his constituency.

“What matters is that greater part of Nigerians voted for us and we must be ready to carry along both those who voted for us and those who did not vote for us”, Ekweremadu stated.

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