- Lauds wide condemnation of panel
The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has justified the barrage of condemnations trailing the inauguration of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s Military Rights Abuse Commission.
This was based on the group’s conviction that the 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 a statement on Saturday signed by its Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi, Miss Chinenye F. Akubuilo and Miss Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Intersociety claimed that the real intent behind the setting of the Commission is to confer “an immunity of impunity” to the committees 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 issues of the reports under complaint.
“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 statement read.
Buttressing its claims, the group alleged that “the Chairman of the Panel, 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 Amaechi, who presently is a Minister in Buhari/Osinbajo Administration. 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”.
Intersociety as well queried the inclusion of people like Mr. Wale Fapohunda, Ms. Hauwa Ibrahim, Mr. Jibrin Ibrahim and Ms. Ifeoma Nwakama as members of the present Osinbajo’s probe panel.
It said that organization such as the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), had Its statement on15th August 2017 called for immediate disbandment of the said probe panel or commission for lacking credibility and independence and the Amnesty International which was said to had 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”.