Nigeria: Failure to release report of Presidential Panel a setback for rule of law

Responding to the failure of Nigerian authorities to release report of the Presidential Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement three years on, Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International Nigeria said:  

“The failure of Nigerian authorities to release the report of the Presidential Panel that purportedly investigated compliance of armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement, three years after the report was submitted to the President is a gross display of contempt for victims. Many Nigerians showed incredible courage to testify to the panel, in the hope that, at the end it will lead to justice. But three years is so long and too long for victims to continue waiting for the release of the panel’s report; which is a key step to justice for victims.  

“We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill the promise he made in 2015 to end impunity by immediately releasing the report. Victims and the larger public in Nigeria deserve to see and scrutinize the findings. Previous such investigations have ended up without any tangible outcome on the side of justice. Nigerian authorities have the duty to ensure that the country’s security forces comply with international law obligations and ensure prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations of all allegations of violations. 

“Hundreds of victims and witnesses described horrific violations committed by Nigeria’s security forces, including rape, torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and razing of villages and homes during public hearings organized by the Panel in Abuja, Enugu, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, and Lagos. Failure to disclose the report of the panel, an important first step towards justice, is a shameful betrayal of these victims and another marker of the lack of political will by Nigerian authorities to bring alleged perpetrators to justice. It is an abysmal failure, a devastating setback for rule of law that only perpetuates the culture of impunity which is so pervasive in Nigeria.”   

BACKGROUND  

Following reports by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations that the Nigerian military has been responsible for crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations across Nigeria, in August 2017 the then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo set up the Presidential Investigative Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement. Amnesty International appeared before the panel and presented evidence and testified on behalf of victims. The panel submitted its report to President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2018. The panel held public sittings in Abuja, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna, and Lagos from 11 September to 8 November 2017.