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Nigeria’s military approach against separatists stokes more tension

Nigeria’s military has reacted heavy-handedly to  the growing separatist swell in the south-east among organisations claiming to be the successors of the failed late-1960s Biafra secessionist movement. This month the military embarked on ‘Operation Python Dance’, a show of force to try to quell the Biafra agitation.

The exercise targeted the supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its leader Nnamdi Kanu, who has been central to the Biafra agitation since 2015. Several pro-Biafrans have been arrested and the military has been accused of brutality, arbitrary killings and torture. Over 150 IPOB supporters were killed on last year’s Biafran Remembrance Day, human rights group Amnesty International reported. Read more https://issafrica.org/iss-today/nigerias-military-approach-against-separatists-stokes-more-tension

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Burundi | Crimes warrant ICC investigation and Human Rights…

In the face of mounting evidence of crimes against humanity committed with impunity by Burundian authorities, 35 African and international NGOs call on the Human Rights Council to push for investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court and for Burundi’s Council membership. This call was further elaborated by ISHR in a statement to the Council. A Council-mandated Commission of Inquiry, reporting at the current September session, has confirmed the continuation of serious human rights violations from April 2015 to date. Read more http://www.ishr.ch/news/burundi-crimes-warrant-icc-investigation-and-human-rights-council-suspension

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Attorney General of the Federation Set To Commence Trial…

The Attorney General of the Federation has announce its readiness to begin the arraignment of  Boko Haram suspects in various detention facilities in the country. It is slated to kick-start tentatively on Monday, October 7, 2017.

Below is the report from the office of the Attorney General;

 

STATUS OF TERRORISM CASES as at 11th Sept 2017

Concluded cases:  13

Convictions:  9

Ongoing trials at various Federal High Court Divisions:  33 cases

Charges filed awaiting trial in Kainji:  116 cases

Detainees recommended for release / deradicalisation programme for want of evidence:  220

Detainees profiled at the Kainji Detention Facility awaiting judicial proceedings / deradicalisation programme.  1670

Detainees remanded at the Federal High Court, Maiduguri and transferred from Giwa Barracks to Maiduguri Prisons: 651

 

SOME CHALLENGES

  • Poorly investigated case files due to pressure during the peak of conflict at the theater.
  • Over reliance on confession based evidence.
  • Lack of forensic evidence.
  • Absence of cooperation between investigators and prosecutors at pre- investigation stages.
  • Poor logistical facilities to transport defendants from detention facility to court for trial.
  • Scarcity of skilled/trained forensic personnel to handle investigation of complex cases.
  • Inadequate security for counsel handling terrorism cases.
  • Converting military intelligence to admissible evidence.

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION

  1. The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has approved a list of prosecutors to handle the cases and the Legal Aid Council has equally released a list of defence counsels to stand in for the detainees/defendants.
  2. The proposed prosecutions of over One Thousand, Six Hundred (1600) detainees held in Kainji will commence by early October, 2017 after the opening of the new legal year.
  3. Currently, four (4) judges have been deputed by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to sit on the cases at Kainji and dispose of them expeditiously.
  4. It is expected that the special prosecutions will start with the detainees in Kainji followed closely by the disposal of the cases of the detainees in Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri until the cases are exhausted.
  5. The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as the coordinator of terrorism matters is expected to assist the court by providing the relevant detainees access to deradicalisation programmes where necessary.

This is the report of the on-the-spot assessment of the facilities and other incidentals preparatory to the commencement of trial of the over 1600 suspected Boko Haram terrorist  detained in  military detention facility  located in Wawa Barracks, Kainji, New Bussa, Niger State following successes recorded by the Nigeria Army and other security agencies in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.

A team comprising representative of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Federal High Court and the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation were dispatched to Kainji from the 12th to 14th of September, 2017 to carry out the assessment and to discuss with relevant authorities and organisation in final preparation of the all-important national assignment.

Categorisation of the suspects

It will be noted that there are four categories of suspects at the Kainji detention facility mentioned above. These suspects are;

Boko Haram suspects who were hitherto investigated by the Joint Investigation Team set up by the Defence Headquarters otherwise known as DHQ/JIT and case files transmitted to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and after a careful review of the cases based on their individual merit, it was discovered that they have no prima facie cases that will sustain a charge against them in any court of law hence were recommended for release and handed over to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for rehabilitation and/or de-radicalisation.

The second category is the set of suspects that the Honourable Attorney-General found prima facie cases against them and charges already filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division who are also mostly in the detention facility under reference and may be willing to plead guilty for a lesser sentences.

The other category are the suspects whose case file are either recommended for further investigation or that have no investigation conducted on them at all hence they do not have case files that will warrant the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to form any opinion in respect of their case.

Lastly, the fourth category is the suspects whose cases were reviewed and a prima facie were found and may be willing to opt for a full trial.

From the above categorisation, it is important to state that the number of the suspects affected by any of the aforementioned categories would only be determined when the trial has commenced.

Comrade Salihu Othman Isah

Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN

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Human Rights Council holds enhanced interactive dialogue on the…

On the 18th of September 2017, the Human Rights Council  held an enhanced interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in South Sudan.

Taking part in the dialogue were Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights; Yasmin Sooka, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan; Paulino Wanawilla Unango, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of South Sudan; Augustino Njorge, Deputy Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission for the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan; Eugene Nindorera, Director of Human Rights of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan; and Khabele Matlosa, Director of the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission. In her statement, Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, noted that the scale of human suffering generated by the crisis in South Sudan was almost beyond description.  Readmore

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UN brokers deal to end use of children in…

On the 20th of September 2017, the United Nations Organization entered  a revolutionary agreement with the  Civilian Joint Task Force that will end the use of children in the conflict against Boko Haram in north-east of Nigeria.

The Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) was  formed largely from vigilante groups in response to the Boko Haram insurgency. The force protects communities in areas poorly guarded by the military, but has been accused of rape and human rights abuses by Human Rights Watch and other rights organizations.

Minors have been recruited by Boko Haram since its inception in 2013, often for search operations, to guard outposts and to perform night patrols.

According to the UN, between October 2015 and August 2017, more than 360 children were used by the 23,000-strong armed task force, some as young as nine. Since the insurgency began in Nigeria in 2009, more than 8,000 children have been recruited by Boko Haram, with children – especially young girls – increasingly used as suicide bombers.

The report also found that attacks by Boko Haram on communities and security forces had resulted in the deaths of more than 3,900 children. A further 7,300 have been injured.

In the same period, suicide attacks became the second leading cause of child casualties, accounting for more than 1,000 deaths and 2,100 injuries.

The concord, reached after a year of negotiations led by the UN, will draw a line under the enlistment of children by the group.

Mohamed Fall, a UNICEF representative in Nigeria, said: “We have seen too many childhoods destroyed by the crisis in the north-east. Today’s agreement is an important milestone for child protection and paves the way for a brighter future for children caught up in the conflict.”

Under an action plan, implemented as part of the agreement with the Borno state government and Nigerian state authorities, children will receive psycho-social support and undertake community reintegration programmes, and attempts will be made to reunite them with their families.

Displaced families stand at the main gate of a camp for internally displaced people at Monguno, Borno state
Displaced families stand at the main gate of a camp for internally displaced people at Monguno, Borno state

 

Jibrin Gunda, the legal adviser for the CJTF, said the agreement was a vital step. “We’ve already started to carry out the action plan we signed with the UN,” he said. “Anyone under the age of 18 will no longer be a part of the CJTF. We are doing our best to make sure we are on the right side of human rights codes.”

The special representative of the secretary-general for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba, said the deal was a source of hope for children affected by the fighting.  And added that now that the action plan has been signed, he urge the CJTF to fully implement it in order to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children once and for all.”

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Report on The Presidential Panel set up to Investigate…

The Presidential Panel set up by his excellency the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement, especially in the local conflict and insurgency situations and also  to investigate alleged human rights violations by the Nigerian Army,  held its inaugural sitting in Abuja on the 11th of September 2017 with Benue indigenes narrating how soldiers helped rampaging herdsmen to attack their communities.
The panel opened for witness account and several witnesses were called to testify. In his testimony, the first petitioners’ witness, Mr. Jacob Kwaghkper, who is a retired Deputy Director with the National Commission for Colleges of Education, told the panel that from 2015 to June 2017, five communities that make up the Moon Valley were subjected to intense, sustained and coordinated attacks by soldiers from the 93 Battalion and herdsmen, leading to the death of 28 people. He told the panel that the herdsmen, with the active support of soldiers, were still occupying ancestral lands of the five communities. Lamenting before the panel, Kwaghkper said: “The soldiers are even providing security for the herdsmen, who are occupying the ancestral lands of the communities. “The displaced people of the communities, who escaped from the series of sustained attacks, have become refugees in Cameroon and internally displaced persons, (IDPs), taking shelter in various places in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State, under the watchful eyes of both the Federal and State government without any form of assistance.”

Another witness, Mr. Agbo Utah, told the panel that soldiers watched as herdsmen burnt down his compound. He also narrated how he was beaten, arrested and detained for a week by soldiers who disrupted local government election held in the area in 1998. Demands Aside the narratives, the displaced communities prayed the panel to order immediate restoration of their ancestral lands with adequate compensation. They further want all places     of worship, schools and markets that were destroyed as a result of the attacks by soldiers of the 93 Battalion, Nigerian Army, Takum, Taraba State, and herdsmen, be rebuilt on their original sites.

Shortly after Justice Georgewill, Chairman of the seven-man panel, declared the sitting open, victims who were  residents of Moon Valley communities in Kwande Local Government Area of   Benue State took turns to narrate their experience.    They narrated how about 30,000 persons were displaced by the military from their abode. Represented by their lawyer,        Mr. Mike Utsaha, the community told the panel that while 28 persons were killed in the attack, 91 compounds and property were destroyed.

According to the community, the attack was carried out by the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Takum, Taraba State. The community, through an 18-page memorandum submitted to the panel, stated how following intense and sustained attacks from 2013 to 2015, they were massacred and displaced from their ancestral land by the combined team of soldiers.
The chairman of the probe panel, Justice Biobele Georgewill, said the proceeding will provide a unique opportunity to those that have genuine and verifiable cases of human rights abuses by the Armed Forces, in the course of managing and containing local conflicts and insurgencies, to submit their memoranda.
The panel will hold a public hearing in each of the six Geo-political zones of the country on selected dates and centers.
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The National Coordinator of the NCICC Mr Chino Obiagwu…

Mr Chino Obiagwu   he called on states to explore all legislative, diplomatic and legal avenues to robustly respond to concerns of African states in the ICC system
Mr Chino Obiagwu an insightful human rights activist and the National coordinator of the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court took the floor on the 2nd day of the 15th session of the  Assembly of State Parties. He called on states to explore all legislative, diplomatic and legal avenues to robustly respond to concerns of African States in the ICC systems.