On Thursday, the Nigerian Army announced that they will establish a Human Rights Desk. The purpose of the desk will be to investigate human rights complaints filed against the Nigerian Army. The announcement of the creation of the HR Desk was made available in a press release issued by PR Nigieria.
Chief of Army Staff Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai explained that the creation of the Human Rights Desk was motivated in part by the scrutiny the army has faced during its war with Boko Haram in the Northeast.
The human rights group Amnesty International (AI) issued a highly critical report of the Army’s conduct during its counterinsurgency operations against Boko Haram.
SaharaReporters has also published several reports covering a litany of military abuses against the Nigerian citizenry.
In December, SaharaReporters published several pieces on the brutal massacre of hundreds of Shiites by the Nigerian army, acting under the orders of Mr. Buratai, in the city of Zaria. Human Rights Watch stated that there was evidence the army dug mass graves to hide the dead and that more than 300 people are believed to have been murdered.
SaharaReporters also publicized the detention and torture of Adamu Koli, the brother of Captain Sagir Koli. It will be recalled that Captain Koli was the whistleblower who helped to expose the Ekitigate scandal of 2014. Because of his role in exposing this scandal, Captain Koli was forced to flee the country.
The torture of Captain Koli’s brother was a tactic employed by Brigadier General Momoh, who had been bribed by top Nigerian politicians including Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose and then Minister of the State for Defense Musiliu Obanikoro, to lure the captain back to Nigeria to silence him.
In 2015, a Chairman of a local Vigilante Group, and a police informant, Mr. Benson Ogedgebe was executed by the military in the Delta State town of Oghara. Mr. Ogedgebe was killed for his attempts to frustrate the collusion between the military and local criminal gangs.
SaharaReporters exclusively published the autopsy report which revealed Mr. Ogedgebe was indeed executed by the military after being arrested and then tortured by Nigerian troops.
The Commanding Officer, Lt. Colonel Aminu Umar, who reportedly ordered the murder was “investigated” but he received no punishment from the army.
Within the past few weeks, further human rights abuses by the Nigerian military have come to light. In Abia State, the Nigerian army and police beat, tear gassed, and arrested several unarmed Pro-Biafran protesters.
The clash between the protesters and Nigerian security agencies took place at a local High School, and left one person dead. The bloody scene was captured by one of the protesters on video and published by SaharaReporters.
In another incident, military cadets brutally beat a man for “flirting” with a female cadet. Once again the entire affair was captured on video which was published by SaharaReporters.
The systematic pattern of impunity and human rights abuses from the Nigerian army, as well as pressure from international human rights groups, has pressured the Nigerian army to begin addressing some of these issues.