This is following the widespread three-part report published last December by a foreign media organisation, Reuters, which implicated the Nigerian military in grievous human rights violations.
Reuters had reported that in the last 10 years, the Nigerian military was involved in secret abortions of many pregnancies in the North-East, infanticide, and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence acts.
Last week, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu, had named a seven-member panel chaired by former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Abdu Aboki, to look into the case.
During the inaugural event on Tuesday, Ojukwu said the National Human Rights Commission “has invoked its inherent, express and incidental powers as contained in sections 5 and 6 of the NHRC Act as amended to constitute a special independent investigative panel.”
The panel, according to Ojukwu, will look into the report and determine the culpability of the individuals and institutions involved and thereafter make appropriate recommendations.
Specifically, the secretary said the panel would “investigate allegations of gross violations of national and international human rights laws/principles alleged against the Nigerian Armed Forces in the three reports by Reuters; receive memorandum from individuals and organisations with interest in the subject matter of the mandate of the SIIP North-East, especially human rights, security and humanitarian organisations working in the North-East; make appropriate determinations as to culpability of individuals or institutions as may be deemed necessary in each circumstance,” according to relevant laws.
It added that the panel would, “make determination as to the damages or compensation payable in relation to any violation of human rights where it deems this necessary in the circumstances of the case; refer any matter of human rights violations requiring the prosecution to the Attorney General of the Federation or of a State, as the case may be; make recommendations to government on Institutional, Policy and Regulatory measures to be taken to integrate human rights principles and practices into military and counter-insurgency operations” and “propose remedial steps that may enhance the professional conduct of military personnel in counter-insurgency operations” among others.
Membership of the panel was drawn from relevant professional backgrounds bordering on the matter.
These professionals include law and human rights, medicine and psychology, military intelligence and humanitarian affairs.
Furthermore, the secretary stated that the panel would work hard with all the resources at its disposal to investigate and unravel the truth behind the allegations and ensure that justice is done in all cases.