By Wale Odunsi
Nigerian Army on Wednesday released report of a Special Board that probed alleged human rights abuse levelled against its personnel by the Amnesty International (AI).
AI had accused the Army of extra-judicial killing of members Boko Haram and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Maj.-Gen. Nuhu Angbazo, Chief of Military/Civil Affairs, who presented the findings to the media on Wednesday in Abuja said although it did not find the army guilty of the accusations, Boko Haram terrorists were not allowed access to legal representation.
”The right to counsel is fundamental to basic fairness that should be recognised even with respect to terrorism cases”, it said.
“The board found that the process determining the legal status of Boko Haram detainees in all military detention facilities appear to have been left to the Nigerian Army alone.
“We note in particular the difficulty encountered by the Nigerian Army in transferring detainees in Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri detention facility to the Maiduguri maximum prisons to ease congestion in the facility.
“The board found that a common feature in all the detention facilities visited was the delay in the legal processing and trial of Boko Haram detainees”, it said.
The report added that some of the terrorist detainees at the time of the arrest, were “malnourished and in poor state.This could be misconstrued as evidence of deliberate starvation.”
On the alleged killing of members of IPOB and their subsequent alleged burial in a shallow pit, the board said this was untrue.
“The board interacted with the Anambra Governor, Commissioner of Police, State Directror, DSS and some residents.
“They testified that no one was killed during the incident (IPOB protest) at Onitsha bridgehead but police report showed that 14 people were arrested on the day – May 29, 2016.
“The board received the names and contact details of the five ring leaders of the protest who were arrested and handed over to the police on that day,’’ the report said.
The nine-man board headed by Retired Maj.-Gen. A.T Jibril was inaugurated by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on March 8.