Amnesty International has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to stop side-stepping justice and start investigating war crimes committed by the Nigerian military against civilians in the fight against Boko Haram.
Until this happens, the international human rights organisation has asked the United Kingdom Prime Minister, David Cameron, to stop offering military assistance to Nigeria.
Currently, the UK Government provides military assistance to Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram. More than 150 British troops have been deployed in the country to offer military training.
Amnesty International’s UK Director, Kate Allen, made the call after President Buhari’s visit to the UK to attend the Supporting Syria Conference in London on Thursday.
Allen said in a statement, “The UK must ensure that any assistance it provides to Nigeria is compliant with human rights law. It should not provide military assistance to Nigerian troops accused of committing human rights violations. All proposed training or other security assistance must be very carefully scrutinised, and all Nigerian military personnel recommended for training should be vetted to ensure the UK is not complicit in any serious human rights violations.
“The UK, under its obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty, must also ensure that a rigorous risk assessment is carried out before weapons, ammunition, or other military technologies are sent to Nigeria, and no transfers should take place where there is a clear and substantial risk that they could be used to commit or facilitate atrocities. This is no time for a diplomatic tap-dances around the issues of mass unlawful killings, arbitrary arrest and deaths in detention.”
In a June 2015 report titled, “Stars on their shoulders, blood on their hands,” AI detailed alleged war crimes committed by the Nigerian military.
Amnesty also reiterated its call upon the UK Government to ensure any military assistance provided to Nigeria is in keeping with human rights standards, and not provided to units accused of crimes under international law and other serious violations of human rights.
In a related development, AI has entered into partnership with civil rights organisation, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, to protect the rights of Nigerians against torture.
The rights group said it recognised CDHR’s efforts in the protection of human rights, adding that their collaboration would strengthen AI’s global ‘Stop Torture’ crusade.
AI’s Project Manager in Nigeria, Mr. Makmid Kamara, during a press conference recently at the CDHR headquarters in Lagos, said, “Human rights issues in Nigeria are very complex. For instance, the Nigerian Constitution prohibits torture but does not criminalise it. We urge the CDHR and other civil society groups to speak out against this. Torture should be criminalised in Nigeria.”
Kamara said the AI would be assisting the CDHR in the “area of research and investigation of alleged rights abuses.”
CDHR’s National President, Mr. Malachy Ugwumadu, said the organisation was delighted with the partnership, adding that it was in the “process of providing a thoroughly researched database on looting in Nigeria.”
He said the database, which would be made public, would include details on what the looted funds could have been used for.
He said, “The meeting coincides with the country’s challenge in the area of upholding the rights of Nigerians not to be tortured. The inefficiency of Nigerian law enforcement agencies in conducting investigations often leads to the use of torture against suspects.”