CALSER exonerates Army, Buratai, says no record of execution of six Igbo soldiers
The Centre for African Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights (CALSER) has rubbished reports of extra-judicial killing of six Igbo personnel in the Nigerian Army levelled against immediate past Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (rtd). The centre said the allegations of ethnic cleansing in the Army was not only false but an agenda by the Eastern Nigeria’s Rights and Intelligentsia Coalition to cast aspersion on the personality of Buratai while sparking an ethnic and religious conflict in the country. CALSER made this revelation in a detailed investigative report signed by its President, Princess Ajibola and released on Friday. The centre noted that from its findings, there is no any record in the Nigerian Army that indicated such incident. The report also established that the process of promotion and dismissal in the Army is not the prerogative of the Chief of Army Staff. CALSER, however, urged the Nigerian Army to begin the gathering process towards identifying individuals and groups that are out to undermine its integrity as an institution. It also recommended that the Army authorities seek legal redress against the Eastern Nigeria’s Rights and Intelligentsia Coalition to serve as a deterrent to other individuals and groups attempting such mission. Read the full statement below: Introduction: The polity has been inundated with allegations of killings of Igbo personnel in the Nigerian Army in recent times. The news indeed was unpalatable. Consequently, the Centre for African Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights commissioned an investigative report to ascertain the veracity of the claims that if not addressed is capable of sparking an ethnic and religious conflict in the country. The Centre for African Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights as a critical stakeholder in the entrenchment of the rule of law and respect for human rights and democratic governance indeed examined all the issues at stake, interacted with a cross-section of Nigerians in the know of the issues at hand to have an objective assessment that would aid the investigative report. It also relied on first-hand sources from competent and credible sources. After that, information gathered was subjected to scrutiny to present a report that is devoid of ethnic and religious sentiments, sympathy and mischief. The Issues: There were insinuations that the Nigerian Army was involved in the extra-judicial killing of six Nigerian Army soldiers based on their ethnicity and religion. It was also alleged that the Nigerian Army conducted a secret trial of the soldiers and hurriedly executed them and conducted secret burial for them in an undisclosed location in Abuja. The allegation was made by a group named Eastern Nigeria’s Rights and Intelligentsia Coalition. It also stated that other senior serving military and police officers were privy to the atrocity, including Governors Willie Obiano and Okezie Ikpeazu of Anambra and Abia states respectively. It alleged that the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai ordered for their execution a day before he retired from service. The Findings: The Centre for African Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights consequently launched an investigative report on the allegations which were indeed weighty and must not be wiped under the carpet as it borders on ethnic cleansing and religious discrimination. The investigative report involved in-depth scrutiny of the allegations made against the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai by examining the Nigerian Army as an institution regarding the laws guiding its operational conduct. Attention was also placed on the Nigerian Army structure to ascertain if there were any form of ethnic or religious discrimination in practice under the immediate past Chief of Army Staff. Our findings revealed that the allegations of killing six Igbo soldiers were grossly inaccurate as there was no record in the Nigerian Army that indicated such incident. It was also observed that the emphasis on ethnicity and religion from our findings was orchestrated to cause disquiet in the polity. It was also observed that Eastern Nigeria’s Rights and Intelligentsia Coalition does not have any known address in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world. The group has not been involved in any activity that has come to the public regarding promoting human rights, whether on the Igbos of any other ethnicity in Nigeria. From scrutiny, the only activity ascribed to the group is a press statement that was issued and was not reported by credible news mediums in Nigeria for lacking evidence to substantiate the allegations. The Centre for African Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights was able to identify that the bulk of the news mediums that reported the press statement were blogs with no history of credibility and notorious for promoting unverified news items in the polity. It was also discovered that there is no such ethnic or religious cleansing in the Nigerian Army as all those interviewed faulted the allegation that under the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Igbo soldiers and officers were targeted for persecution. It was also established that the process of promotion and dismissal in the Nigerian Army is not the prerogative of the Chief of Army Staff, but rather that of the Nigerian Army Council consisting of the Minister of Defence as Chairman, the Chief of Defence Staff as Vice Chairman, the Chief of Army Staff and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence as Secretary. From information gathered from the Defence Headquarters and the Nigerian Army Headquarters, there is no evidence indicating that the Nigerian Army Council instructed for the execution of 6 Igbo soldiers. It was also discovered that promotion and dismissal issues in the Nigerian Army have been consistent with the provisions of the Armed Forces Act. There hasn’t been any recorded instance where the immediate past Chief of Army Staff arrogated the Nigerian Army Council’s powers to himself in the issues of promotion and dismissal. Conclusion: The Centre for Africa Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights as a result of the investigative report and the consequent information gathered and analyzed, we conclude that the allegations of ethnic cleansing in the Nigerian Army is false and a ploy by some groups and individuals to discredit the Nigerian Army as an institution, as well as cast aspersion on the personality of the immediate past Chief of Army Staff. There is no record anywhere of the summary execution of six Igbo soldiers on the immediate past Chief of Army Staff’s instruction. All the interested parties have dismissed this allegation within the Armed Forces and outside the Armed Forces. Recommendation: The Center for African Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights as a result of the above findings herby make the following recommendations: That the incident of fake news has reached an alarming stage due to the activities of non-state actors who have come under the scrutiny of the Nigerian Army in its various operations across the country and therefore the Nigerian Army must step up its information gathering process towards identifying individuals and groups that are out to undermine the integrity of the Nigerian Army as an institution. That the Nigerian Army authorities should begin the process of seeking legal redress against the Eastern Nigeria’s Rights and Intelligentsia Coalition to serve as a deterrent to other individuals and groups attempting to undermine the integrity of the Nigerian Army.