Share this:

Like this:

Like Loading...
" />
Published On: Tue, Apr 8th, 2014

Apo 8: Rights commission indicts Army, SSS

sss nigeriaBy Sunday Ejike Benjamin

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) yesterday indicted security agencies for the September killing of eight youths, who were squatters in an uncompleted building in Gudu/Apo District of Abuja, the Federal Capital city.

In indicting the government agencies, the NHRC specifically said that the Nigerian Army, the Directorate of State Services, otherwise known as SSS and the Attorney General of the Federation had no credible evidence to tag the victims as agents of Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna lid Da’awati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram.

The commission, in an 83-page report of a panel of inquiry into the gruesome murder, said: “There is no credible evidence to suggest or show that the victims in this case were members of Boko Haram or involved in direct participation in hostilities”.

It therefore described the killings as unlawful violations of right to life of the deceased.

“The self-defence asserted by the DSS and the Army is not supported by the facts or evidence. Taking account of all the circumstances in this case, the killings of the eight deceased persons as well as the injuries to the eleven survivors were unlawful”, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the NHRC, Professor Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, said while presenting the report in Abuja.

The five-member investigative panel includes the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe and Hajiya Saudatu Mahdi, who is also a member of the commission’s governing council.

The NHRC further said that the security agencies did not only violate the right to life of the victims but that the survivors suffered non-lethal violations of right to life, physical integrity and livelihood.

It would be recalled that on September 20, 2013, a detachment of the Army and DSS stormed an uncompleted building in the Apo/Gudu District of Abuja for a presumed operation to flush out Boko Haram suspects.

The security agencies claimed at the time that over 100 Boko Haram fighters led by one Suleiman were hiding and coordinating an attack on Abuja from the building, and had buried arms at the nearby Gudu cemetery.

After the military operation at the building, seven of the inmates were killed, one later died in the hospital, while four were arrested and later detained. Some of the occupants escaped during the operation while some of the arrested occupants were asked never to return to Abuja.

In its report, the NHRC said it investigated the contending claims and based its resolutions on whether the security agencies applied proportionate force to the alleged threat and whether those killed were lawfully denied their lives.

The commission slammed the security agencies for their argument that the victims were Boko Haram combatants. It said there was “no credible evidence” to reach such a conclusion and for that reason, the victims remained, in the face of the law, “protected civilians” under the Geneva Convention that governs the rule of law.

The NHRC also rebuked the security forces for being trigger happy, saying their testimonies of “self-defence were inconsistent and could not be accepted.”

As a result of the damages suffered by the victims and survivors in the unfortunate incident, the NHRC awarded: “The sum of N10 million as compensation for each of the deceased to be paid by the government of the federation. To each of the injured survivors, the sum of N5 million to be paid by the government of the federation within thirty days of the present decision”.

Regarding the order to banish some of the youth from Abuja, the NHRC said the security forces had no legal backing to exclude or internally banish citizens and gave two months to the three agencies to review and harmonise rules of engagement governing the operations of security agencies and bring them into compliance with international standards governing armed conflict.

The Army, while testifying before the investigative panel set up by the governing council of the commission, through the then Commander, Brigade of Guards, Nigeria Army, Major-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, said the soldiers acted in self-defence after they were shot at.

He said: “Between September 18 and 19, two persons were arrested in Abuja and they made useful confessions that there were arms hidden at Apo Cemetery to be used in a planned attack.”

“As troops were deployed to cordon the building, the fire came; first it was a single shot, then rapid fire followed. The troops returned fire in self-defence”, he claimed.

Atewe, who represented the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, told the investigative panel, presided over by the NHRC chairman, that the DSS got cogent information on a planned attack, saying the raid on the uncompleted building was necessary to avert the plan.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

%d bloggers like this: