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Friday, 5 June 2015


Human Rights groups that are operationally based in the United Kingdom and the United States of America such as Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch can comfortably lay claim to playing significant roles in bringing about civil activism by indigenous patriots born and bred in those places considered as Third World or developing nations. These Western based organisations enjoy greater patronage from their home nations and powerful lobby platforms. 

In the days of military dictatorship in Nigeria, these internationally recognized organizations were at the forefront of galvanizing global support and solidarity for local groups campaigning for the restoration of civil rule and respect for human rights of Nigerians.

But since the advent of civil democracy particularly since the last three years that the Nigerian State has consistently faced a barriage of terrorists invasions and bloody attacks masterminded by a range of freelance armed terrorists amongst which Boko Haram in the North East of Nigeria ranks first, these two International groups have played suspicious anti-Nigerian people’s roles. They alongside their home governments have antagonised Nigeria 's effort to defeat these terrorists and the decision by the Nigerian government in recent times to go East and look towards China and Russia for greater multilateral partnerships hasn't gone down well with the USA and United Kingdom and so the renewed vicious antagonisms of these Western based groups may have formidable but covert support of their home governments. 

These groups have consistently engaged in global wide advocacy campaigns castigating the Nigerian Military Institutions and graphically painting them as aggressors who wantonly violate the human rights of terrorists.

Because of some of these jaundiced reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International which portrayed Nigerian Military as perpetual abusers of human rights, the government of the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan totally lost out by way of not winning the confidence of the leaders of military powers of the USA; UK and Israel and these negative tendencies of these organisations led to large scale frustrations of every governmental efforts to equip the Nigeria Army to confront the emerging threats to Nigeria’s national security and to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity from the bombardments of armed terrorists.

Because of the adverse reports by these organizations  that have no physical offices in Nigeria but make use of local groups and because of the refusal of the Western powers to sell weapons to Nigeria, these terrorists for six months sacked many towns and communities leading to the wanton destruction of lives and property of Nigerians.

The armed Terrorists completely ravaged and destroyed Baga town in Borno State killing over 5, 000 persons and in all well over 20,000 Nigerians have lost their lives to the activities of these armed Islamists even as over a million Nigerians are now internally displaced with hundreds -of -thousands of others trooping into neighbouring countries as refugees.

The pains and excruciating experiences of the victims of terrorism in Nigeria are not the immediate concern and focus of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as they have consistently written reports to play up the alleged human rights violations suffered by these suspected mass killers especially those caught in the line of fire.

It is true that human rights abuses should not be encouraged even if those facing these abuses are armed terrorists but the one – sided reports of these Euro-American groups in the west have forced people of good will to ask whether they are working for the terrorists.

Amnesty International just came out with a report in which they focused on the condition of detention centers in the military institutions just as they accused the Nigerian Military of killing over 8,000 suspected detained terrorists. 
Amnesty International (A.I) then proceeded to list out some top former and serving Nigerian Generals who should be indicted and prosecuted for war crime by the international criminal court in the Hague, Netherlands. 

A.I submitted this hogwash of a report to the International criminal court before releasing it to the reading public. The report contains many fallacious conclusions lacking in substantial logic and therefore amounted to a Jaundiced hatchet job for some fifth columnists who do not wish Nigeria well.

The timing of the release of this report to coincide with the directive by Nigeria’s new president Muhammadu Buhari to the military to crush Boko Haram is being interpreted to mean that this UK group is working to promote the interest of the armed terrorists and is seeking to undermine the resolve of Nigeria’s new government to crush Boko Haram.

If these military service Chiefs both retired and serving erroneously listed for prosecution for the so-called war crimes in the West are rounded up, what Amnesty International is targeting to achieve is to demoralize the military forces now battling the terrorists in the North East of Nigeria and to weaken their fighting morale and motivation. This bad report must be thrown away to the garbage bin.

To fully understand how hollow this report is, we will delve briefly to quote some aspects of the executive summary of the report titled: “Stars on their shoulders Blood on their hands, war crimes committed by the Nigerian military.”

The London based group wrote thus; “In the course of security operations against Boko Haram in north-east Nigeria, Nigerian military forces have extrajudicially executed more than 1,200 people; they have arbitrarily arrested at least 20,000 people, most young men and boys; and have committed countless acts of torture.

Hundreds, if not thousands of Nigerians have become victims of enforced disappearance, and at least 7,000 people have died in military detention as a result of starvation, extreme overcrowding and denial of medical assistance.” These narratives are not evidenced based and lacks scientific propriety since no medical records were attached to determine the cause of deaths of these phantom 8,000 'killed' Boko Haram detainees as alleged by A.I.

To demonstrate that this group has a preconceived agenda to run down the credibility of the Nigerian military it also poured out conclusions that are so illogical, very much irrational and fallacious. They ended up playing the role of prosecutors and Judges at the same time by listing out those to be indicted including Lietenant General Azubuike Ihejirika during whose tenure as Chief of Army staff the noble idea of creating a civil/military human rights department which worked actively to enlighten soldiers on the rules of engagement during internal operations and also the sanctity of human rights were promoted.

Amnesty International in its haste to nail their perceived enemy General Ihejirik and a few others, failed to properly understand the doctrine of superior/command responsibility.

Hear them; “In the light of its findings in this report, Amnesty International believes that the following military officers should be investigated for the war crimes of murder, enforced disappearance and torture: Major General John A. H. Ewansiha;Major General Obida T. Ethan;  Major General Ahmadu Mohammed; Brigadier General Austin O. Edokpayi;Brigadier General RO Bamigboye. Others listed were;Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika; Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim.  Lt. General Ken Minimah. 

The elementary doctrine of Superior/Command responsibility when properly examined, shows that Amnesty International were wrong in reaching those conclusions.

The Peace and Justice Initiative in a report had stated that; “Command or superior responsibility “is often misunderstood. First, it is not a form of objective liability whereby a superior could be held criminally responsible for crimes committed by subordinates of the accused regardless of his conduct and regardless of what his knowledge of these crimes. 

“The commission of one or more crimes attributable to a sub ordinate is a pre-requisite for the application of that doctrine. In addition, the following requirements have been identified as forming part of the doctrine of superior responsibility under customary international law: A relationship of superior-subordinate linking the accused and those who committed the underlying offences at the time of the commission of the crime; the knowledge on the part of the superior that his subordinates have committed or taken a culpable part in the commission of a crime or are about to do so; and a failure on the part of the superior to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or to punish those crimes".

From abundance of facts, I am aware that General Azubuike Ihejirika has on a number of times made it abundantly clear that those directly in the chain of command on ground in the North East of Nigeria must comply to the Rules of engagement and respect human rights.

The military detention centers are directly under supervisory purview of chief of Defence Staff and has nothing to do with the chief of Army staff.
Besides, the counter terrorism war is coordinated by the National Security Adviser. In this report, Amnesty International left out the National Security Adviser and the Chief of Defence staff from 2010 to 2012. Why these sinister omissions?

General Ihejirika is known as the officer who made sure that terrorists in the North East were kept on the run and before he retired, he almost succeeded in defeating them.
The issue of poor conditions of prisons and detention centers are national problems that require comprehensive panacea and so must not be blamed on some good Nigerians like Ihejirika or Alex Badeh who have sacrificed so much to protect Nigerians from the attacks of our enemies.

Real patriotic Nigerians admire his sterling qualities and only sympathizers and sponsors of Boko Haram are in the forefront of those castigating General Ihejirika’s or indeed Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh's good names because they fought these terrorists to a standstill and in the case of Alex Badeh who is still serving the traditional Northern military dislikes his phenomenal promotions in the military because he is from the Northern minority tribe in Adamawa state.
President Buhari must not allow Amnesty International to distract him if indeed his government wants to eradicate Boko Haram and restore lasting peace to all parts of Nigeria.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and blogs,


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