Friday, 18 August 2017

News Release: Osibanjo’s Military Rights Abuse Commission; Dead On Arrival


The barrage of attacks and condemnations trailing the constitution and inauguration of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse probe panel, which Mr. Acting President called “Independent Judicial Commission of Enquiry”; are not surprising to the leadership of Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law.

The Acting President’s military rights abuse probe panel in all
intents and purposes including its composition, membership and modus
operandi, is dead on arrival and can best be described as “a fire-
brigade approach and a makeshift probe commission with already written
script and predetermined outcome”.

In other words, the real intent behind the setting of the Commission
is to confer “an immunity of impunity” to the committers of heinous
regional and international human rights crimes; with most of the
atrocity personnel drawn from the serving senior members of the
Nigerian security forces particularly the Nigerian Army and the
Nigeria Police Force.

The “Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse Panel” has since its
constitution and inauguration on 4th and 15th August 2017 been awash
with informed attacks, condemnations and criticisms especially from
leading local and international rights groups and major web and social
media players and commentators.

Our Organization (Intersociety) had in its 11th August 2017 statement,
condemned strongly the way and manner the probe panel was unilaterally
set up by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo without recourse to wide and
proper consultations especially from the identified victims’ groups
and specific rights organizations and issuers of the reports under

We had also raised a serious question mark concerning the independence
and integrity of members of the probe panel; especially owing to the
fact that most of them are widely believed to be known unrepentant
apologists of the Buhari Administration, or personal friends of the
key serving members of the Administration. A good number of the
Osinbajo’s probe panel members have also served in the previous
makeshift panels which all exonerated and cleared the top security
personnel indicted in the rights groups and other research bodies’
reports. The link to our referenced statement is provided here:

The Chair of the Panel (Justice Justice Biobele Georgewill of the Port
Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal), for instance,  is strongly
believed to be a close ally of former Governor Rotimi Amechi, who
presently is a Minister in Buhari/Osinbajo Administration. He is also
said to be a denominational brethren of the Acting President in their
Redeemed Xian Church. A case also abounds where members of the
previous disgraced probe panels are also made members of the present
“Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse Panel or Commission”. The
eligibility and legitimacy problem of the Osinbajo’s Rights probe
Commission is further compounded by the denial of the victims’ groups
(Shiites and pro Biafra groups)  representative slots, while the
Nigerian Army is allowed to be represented in the Commission by
Patrick Akem-a serving Major General in the Nigerian Army.

A clear case in point is the inclusion of Mr. Wale Fapohunda as a
member of the present panel. He was a member of the disgraced
“Nigerian Army’s Special Board of Enquiry”; which had in its watery
report of 15th June 2017 claimed that “nobody was killed in the pro
Biafra violent protests in Southeast Nigeria”. The likes of Ms Hauwa
Ibrahim, Mr. Jibrin Ibrahim and Ms Ifeoma Nwakama as members of the
present Osinbajo’s probe panel are also questionable. They are widely
believed to be strong allies or apologists of the Buhari/Osinbajo

Another strong condemnation of the “Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse
Panel” came from the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), which had in its statement of 15th August 2017 called for immediate
disbandment of the said probe panel or commission for lacking
credibility and independence. HURIWA’s statement is provided in this

Amnesty International had also on 5th August 2017 reacted to the
setting up of the Osinbajo Military Rights Abuse Probe Panel with
tactical misgivings. The international rights body had in a statement
titled: Nigeria: Long Overdue Commission to Probe Human Rights
Violations; called on the government to ensure that the commission is
independent, impartial and free from any conflict of interest that may
affect the integrity of its work. Ensuring that the commission has the
resources to carry out its work and making its terms of reference
public can bring transparency. AI’s statement is contained here:
Sadly and shockingly, despite these criticisms, condemnations and
attacks, the Acting President who single handedly or unilaterally set
up the probe panel is unmoved; likewise members of the Commission whohave also refused to resign from the leprous probe panel  owing to
serious question marks in their integrity and the independence and
impartiality of the Commission. The Commission headed by Justice
Biobele Georgewill has even gone ahead to issue a statement, calling,
among other things, for the “submission of memoranda within two

The statement issued by one Haliru Suleiman (Secretary to the
Presidential Investigation Panel) further added that “ it will hold
its public hearing in Abuja from September 7 to October 6 and that the
“affected persons, institutions and interested members of the public
should  submit their memorandum within two weeks, through the
Presidency, Special Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the
Government of the Federation, for the attention of the secretary of
the panel” and that “ soft copies of the memorandum are to be
submitted to”.

Apart from the “Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse Probe Panel” being
dead on arrival, it has also been red carded by Nigerians especially
by most, if not all the victims’ groups and other critical
stakeholders including issuers of the rights abuse reports.

Investigations carried out by our organization following the
inauguration of the so called “Independent Judicial Commission of
Enquiry” showed that the Panel is totally red carded by critical
victims’ groups such as IPOB/MASSOB and most families of their slain,
tortured, maimed and disappeared members. Shiite Muslims or IMN who
lost over 1000 members have also expressed serious misgivings over the
Panel’s composition, independence and integrity.

To the extent that the Commission sits in the comfort of its
air-conditioned office in Abuja and dishes out orders to victims’
families that have been brutally impoverished, depressed, degraded,
humiliated, oppressed, suppressed, defiled, assaulted and morally
deformed by the criminal and atrocious State actors; by commanding
them to “come and submit their memoranda within two weeks”, is a clear
case of heartlessness, complicity and proxy crimes against humanity.
It also depicts a handiwork of scripted probe panel determined and
desperate to carry out its presidentially written scrip or conferment
of “immunity of impunity” to the regime criminals and their heinous
crimes or atrocities.

A humane, considerate and conscientious (heinous) human rights
violations panel or commission does not need to be reminded that the
victims’ families have lost fathers/ breadwinners, children, mothers,
cousins, nephews, grandparents, etc; all on account of the killing,
disappearance, torture and wounding of their loved ones. Many of their
children have dropped out of schools; with some of their wives
resorted to war-era like prostitution or corporate prostitution in
order to survive while some others have virtually become beggars. Some
parents and wives of these slain and disappeared have also died as a
result of shocks following the death and disappearance of their loved
ones in the hands of the Nigerian security forces.

We, therefore, wonder where on earth the Osinbajo’s Military Rights
Abuse Panel or Commission expect these victims’ families to get huge
resources required for them to “compile in writing all information
regarding the killing, torture, wounding or disappearance of their
loved ones; in addition to videos and photos and duplicate them into
ten pairs with their manual and electronic submission mandatorily
expected within two weeks”.

The Panel must also tell Nigerians including the victims’ relatives or
survivors where they (victims’ relatives or survivors) are expected to
get millions of naira each to hire a lawyer or a team of lawyers to
appear before the Commission for the purpose of defending them and
handling the technical aspects of their cases. Where will the victims’
relatives or survivors further get millions of naira to pay for the
transport fares, hotel and feeding bills of their lawyers and
themselves in very expensive hotels and high cost of living in Abuja?
For instance, for each victim’s representative or survivor and two of
his or her associates especially from Southeast Nigeria; excluding his
or her lawyer, to fully participate in the proceedings of the
Commission in Abuja, during its 30 days public hearing session, he or
she will spend at least 2million. These include hotel bills for the
victim’s relative or survivor with his or her two associates, totaling
not less than N900,000 for 30 days, on N10,000 per day; N540,000 for
the trio’s feeding on N6,000 per day/person average; N60, 000 for a
round road trip of the trio from the East and the remaining N500,000
for local transport, etc. This conservative calculation is based on
assumption that the victim’s relative or survivor and his or her two
associates decide to travel once to Abuja in September for the case
and stay till second week of October. The N2million conservative cost
does not include lawyers’ fees.

If Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and his unilaterally constituted
Military Rights Abuse Probe Panel or Commission had meant well, the
Commission should have been structured in such a way as to make it
readily accessible and close to the victims’ relatives, survivors and
their lawyers or technical guardians. The Commission should have also
been totally devoid of armchair syndrome and strategically identified
and captured the victims’ families, survivors and locations as well as
their lawyers/technical guardians.

That is to say that  the modus operandi of the Commission should have
been structured in such a way that it can easily move to Awka or
Onitsha (for the victims’ relatives and survivors of 2nd  and 17th
December 2015 army killing of pro Biafra campaigners and 29th and 30th
May 2016 massacre of same in Nkpor, Onitsha and Asaba);  Aba or
Umuahia (for 18th January, 29th January and 9th February 2016 massacre of same in Aba); Port Harcourt (for 20th January 2017 pro Trump rally killing of same); Zaria (for 12th-14th December 2015 massacre by the Army of the Shiite Muslims); and Maiduguri or nearby safer city (for 17th January 2017 Rann IDP Camp bombing that killed 236 civilians as well as other conflict zone war  crimes in the Northeast  as contained in the AI and the HRW reports).

We hereby join the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria
(HURIWA) in calling for immediate disbandment of the “Osinbajo’s
Military Rights Abuse Panel or Commission” and setting up of proper
and all inclusive Federal Judicial Commission of Enquiry into gross
human rights violations in Nigeria; to be ratified by the Federal
Executive Council. The FEC should also direct the Attorney General of
the Federation to set up for its ratification the Special Criminal
Investigation Board of the Federal Government of Nigeria to criminally
investigate all the State actors fingered in the named dastardly


For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair
Mobile Line: +2348174090052

Miss Chinenye F. Akubuilo (LLB, BL)
Head, Campaign and Publicity Department

Miss Obianuju Joy Igboeli (LLB, BL)
Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law Program

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