Dismissing the wishy-washy and half-baked tissues of propaganda put up as explanatory notes by the spokesperson of the Nigeria Army’s 82 Division Enugu on why Mgbowo Community was filmed been wantonly attacked by the full force of the military as unsatisfactory, a call for a full disclosure in a broad-based investigative Tribunal has been advocated.
Making the declaration and demand for redress is the prominent Civil Rights Advocacy body:-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) which viewed the statement from the Nigeria Army Enugu as an attempt at sweeping under the carpet a sensitive matter that discredits the integrity and credibility of the exercise being carried out in the South East by the Nigeria Army known as Operation New Dawn.
HURIWA is also tasking the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Yahaya Faruk to take interest in instituting another internal investigative mechanism to probe the clear manifestation of professional misconducts by the operatives of the Army seen carrying out the crude, primitive, unlawful and extremely toxic provocative attacks targeting civilian dominated area in Mgbowo community which contravene the goal of the military operation launched by himself which he said was aimed at tackling insurgency, kidnapping, and rising banditry in the South East leading to what he described as wanton killings and burning of government facilities.
HURIWA said evidence emanating from the viral video shows that those armed operatives sent by the Nigeria Army behaved exactly like armed bandits and unknown gunmen just as evidence showed them setting on fire by firearms, buildings that were deserted. “We are asking the Chief of Army Staff to tell the World if the Rules of Engagement permits the Nigeria Army to set ablaze houses of accused persons and if the Army is above the law and the constitution which specifies that accused persons are innocent until proven guilty by the competent court of law?”
HURIWA said the modus operandi of the operative is making it difficult for the Army as an institution to convince any discerning and rational minds that the exercise is targeted for public good since going by what those military boys were saying in Hausa language, the exercise is portrayed as ETHNIC CLEANSING AND GENOSIDE.
The Rights group has therefore asked the Enugu State governor Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to constitute an investigative Tribunal to be made up of judicial, civil society and military representatives similar to the #ENDSARS investigative panel to unravel the circumstances, individuals surrounding the widely circulated viral video of a daredevil military operation which has now been claimed by the Nigeria Army.
HURIWA recalled that Yesterday, the Nigeria Army gave flimsy and untenable reason for the raiding of the Mgbowo community in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State by soldiers.
HURIWA said that Major Abubakar Abdullahi, the spokesman of 82 Division in a statement, said a joint security force suspected the village as a hideout for the Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network (IPOB/ESN) members; He explained that the operation took place at night, adding that nothing was destroyed.
The Rights group said contrary to the official account, a video which has gone viral on the social media shows that gunshots were fired by men in military camouflage and a building going up in flames. The house was said to belong to a suspected member of IPOB/ESN. It was learnt that soldiers burnt the house when they could not find him.
HURIWA quoted the Army as purportedly refuting the video when Maj Abdullahi said, “There was no incident of indiscriminate firing or unprovoked burning of houses during the raid. Investigation into the video is ongoing to ascertain when and where it was shot and those involved. Any personnel found culpable would be sanctioned accordingly.”
Reacting against the backdrops of the display of brute force by the Nigeria Army and going by the conversations contained in the viral video in Hausa language which depicts the military operation as ethnic cleansing, HURIWA dismissed the explanation by the Enugu division of the Army as a face saving gambit.
“The entire body of the apparent defense put up by the PRO of 82 Division of the Nigeria Army about that incident captured in the video does not hold water because the statement is fraught and replete with illogicalities, fallacies and subterfuges which collectively do not make any valid sense but amounts to double -speak and hollow”.
“It is totally incongruous and strange to read from the same person who denied that any infractions ever took place during the military operation to also promised that the incident is being investigated by the Army. How can any outcome of such an extremely biased investigation be trusted to be true and lawful?”.
HURIWA said: ” From expert legal theses, it is clear that the basic tenets of the rule of law are unequivocal as to the fact that calling out members of the Nigerian Armed Forces on an internal operation, does not confer on them more powers than those prescribed under the law of the country. Consequently, Compliance with the rule of law demands that the rules should be adhered to by troops on all issues during the operations.”
“The Use of Minimum Force. The first thing troops have to bear in mind when engaged in internal operations is that force should only be used when absolutely necessary. Even then, the rule is that troops on such operations may only use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances. There is no hard and fast rule to determine whether a particular degree of force is reasonable in any circumstances. The relevant and widely accepted objective test in determining the use of force is the popular saying that you do not kill a fly with a sledge hammer or conversely, you do not attack a lion with a pen knife.”
HURIWA then warned that any attempt by the Nigeria Army to undermine the essence of carrying out law-based internal security operations will destroy the fundamentals of the constitutional democracy just as the Rights group said the rest of the international community may then view Nigeria as a banana Republic.
HURIWA further submits that the Nigerian Constitution guarantees the right to life and the right to respect for dignity of the person including the right not to be subjected to torture.65 International conventions ratified by Nigeria, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations (U.N.) Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, also prohibit the use of torture.
“Torture, as defined in the U.N. Convention, involves a number of key elements. It is an act by which severe mental or physical pain or suffering is intentionally inflicted against an individual, at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official. The purpose of which is to obtain information, or a confession, or punishment for an act the individual has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidation, coercion, or discrimination of any kind. A person may be tortured as punishment for an act committed, or suspected of being committed, by a third person. Nigeria has an enforceable anti torture law just as constitutionally, Citizens are guaranteed their Right to life”.