A special board of inquiry set up by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Burutai, a lieutenant-general, to investigate allegations of human right abuses, leveled against its personnel, in the South-East zone of the country has commenced work.
The nine-man board of inquiry-led by Ahmed Tijani Jibrin, a retired major-general, was in Aba last Thursday to meet with the state government, Army, Police, State Security Service (SSS) and the principal of National High School, Aba, where the incident occurred.
He also stated that the board was ready to listen to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), if they come forward and promised to grant them fair hearing.
Some human right groups alleged that Army personnel on internal security operations in Aba, on February 9, 2016, killed 10 members of IPOB, who assembled at the National High School, Aba and their bodies taken away from the city and buried at a shallow grave, along Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway.
The special board of inquiry was set up by the Army chief to investigate all cases of human right violation brought against the personnel of the Nigerian Army in the course of their operations in the North-East against the insurgents and the internal security operations in the South-East.
According to Jibrin, “we are here in Abia State, principally to talk with the government of the state, to hear from them, their view on what happened on February 9, 2016, particularly at the National High School, Aba, where it was alleged that some IPOB members were killed by the Army, when their gathering turned violent and their bodies carried out of Aba and buried in a shallow grave along Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway.
“We are here to find out the truth. We have gone to the state government to discuss with them and we are here in Aba to talk to the people, who witnessed the incident and soldiers that conducted the operation.”
On whether they would also talk to IPOB, he said: “Well, if they want to see us, we are ready to engage them, but we are not going to look for them, because they did not complain. They were not the ones that complained. It is human right groups that wrote to the Army and this committee was set up, based on allegations from the human right groups”.
Jibrin explained that the findings of the committee would be released to the public after its interaction with all actors to the issues.
“We can’t disclose our findings now, because we have to talk to everybody that matters, we have spoken with government officials, soldiers, we are going to talk with the police, SSS and we are hoping to see the principal of National High School, Aba and by the time we compare our notes on all these interviews, we will be able to have more objective finding”.
Before coming to Abia, the board visited Onitsha and Nkpo in Anambra State.
Other members of the committee are Paul Izukanne rtd, a colonel, member, Dadan Garba, a rtd brigadier, member, Olawole Fapohunda, former attorney general and commissioner for Justice, Ekiti State, Tony Ojukwu, a director at the National Human Right Commission, brigadier Tunji Olayinka, a brigadier and serving Army personnel, Mahmud Wambai, a colonel, Colonel Lawal Mohammed, also a colonel and Chukwuemeka Akaliro, a lieutenant colonel from Army Headquarters, who is serving, as the secretary of the board.
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Source: Business Day Online