The Nigerian Army promised their loyalty to the President Buhari of Nigeria. A scathing new report from Amnesty International and other organisation which claims to have unearthed a culture of human rights abuses by the Nigerian Army against citizens will put President Muhammadu Buhari and his loyal military under intense scrutiny.
In a bizarre turn of events and on the cold dark night of October 20, 2020, the Nigeria Army under the command of Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, shot live bullets on the youths of Nigeria who were protesting peacefully and demanding good governance from their political leaders.
The entire Nigeria and Nigerians were thrown into deep sorrow at the sheer wickedness and inhumanity of the soldiers who, acting under instruction from a superior command decided to ‘obey the last command’ of killing young person’s asking for an end to Police Brutality.
Prior to the horrific night, the protests which had been going-on for about two weeks across different parts of Nigeria had been peaceful, well co-ordinated and resolute in the demand for an end to police brutality and the scrapping of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad F-SARS.
Unfortunately, the response of the Nigerian government to the request of the youths was the same violence the youths were protesting against and the Nigeria Army under the leadership of Buratai, were willing tools used to spill the blood of the youths of Nigeria on the Nigerian flag.
It would appear that this Buratai is a lover of cold-blooded murder, has seen in his bloody exploits since he was appointed into office by the president.
Recall that Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff in July 2015, a position he occupies till date.
His leadership of the Nigerian Army has been fraught with many controversies bordering on corruption, high-handedness and extra-judicial killings.
In 2019, the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents reportedly killed over 100 soldiers in Metele attack last year under the watch of Buratai and it was the public outcry that emanated from the onslaught that forced the army to admit that its troops were massacred in cold blood.
The Islamic sect Shi’ites also got a brutal dose of the killer soldier has men under his command unleashed mayhem on the peaceful religious protesters because they blocked his convoy.
In that unfortunate incident carried out by the Nigeria Army in Zaria, Kaduna state Nigeria, on Saturday, 12 December 2015, , about 348 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria also known as Shia Muslims were murdered and all but one were buried in shallow graves.
The excuse given by the Army for the carnage was that the protesters blocked the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff and attempted to assassinate him
The claim was strongly rejected by many international and national human rights organisations who called for tough sanctions against the Army for shooting at unharmed and peaceful protesters.
Following the public outcry against what is termed “notable human rights violation since the return to democracy” in Nigeria, the Kaduna State Government in January 2016 set-up the Commission for Judicial Inquiry into the causes of clashes in Zaria between the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the Nigerian Army in December 2015, under the chairmanship of Justice Mohammed Garba, the presiding justice of the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal
Like every other panel set-up by government, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria Clashes submitted its final report on Friday, 15th July 2016, Governor Nasir El-Rufai promised that the Kaduna State Government will make the report public in the shortest possible time in the interest of transparency and that actions would be taken but nothing has been done to assuage the victims and their families.
Interestingly, it would appear that aside his love for killing innocent people whereas, five years after his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff, he is yet to defeat the dreaded Boko-Haram, he has also been indicted for unjustly enriching himself and purchasing expensive properties in Dubai.
The Army Chief was scandalized in a highly publicized report about false asset declaration and ownership of choice properties in Dubai which under normal circumstances were beyond his financial ability.
In an interview with Stephen Sackur on BBC HARD TALK, Buratai claimed the property belongs to his family who had been investors long before he became the COAS.
“The property I invested was far back as 2013 before I became the chief of army staff, I never dreamt of becoming the chief of army staff and people are accusing me as if it is today,” Buratai said.
In a similar story, Nigerian human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has disclosed that he and other lawyers are currently compiling evidences to ensure trial of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Tukur Buratai before the International Criminal Court.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria who made an appearance on Arise TV today October 21, commended the young #EndSARS protesters for capturing photo and video evidences before and after the shooting at Lekki Toll Gate last night.
Falana also recalled how Shiites members were allegedly shot dead in Kaduna state by soldiers who claimed they were blocking same COAS. He added that while compiling the evidence for the international trial, they will also approach local courts.
Also, a United Kingdom law firm headed by Mick Cole said they are working on several pieces of evidence to be submitted to the International Criminal Court for the trial of the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai.
On Thursday, ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, made this known in a statement posted on the Twitter handle of the organisation.
She noted that the court is monitoring developments from the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria.
Bensouda said, “My office has been closely following the events around the current protests in Nigeria and the reaction of Nigeria’s law enforcement and security agencies,” she said.
“Any loss of life and injury is concerning. We have received information alleging crimes and are keeping a close eye on developments, in case violence escalates and any indications arise that Rome Statute crimes may have been committed.
“I call for calm and restraint.”
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project had, on Wednesday, said it sent a petition to Bensouda, urging her to “promptly investigate reports that Nigerian authorities, military, and some politicians have used/ and are using thugs, soldiers and security agents to intimidate, harass, attack and kill #EndSARS peaceful protesters in several parts of Nigeria, including Abuja, Lagos, Edo, Osun, Plateau, and Kano states.”
SERAP urged Bensouda to “push for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, soldiers, some politicians and other actors who directly or indirectly have individually and/or collectively contributed to the attacks, deaths and injuries, and are therefore complicit in the crimes, to be tried by the ICC.”
In the petition dated 21 October 2020 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “The Nigerian authorities over the years have been unwilling and/or unable to prosecute suspected perpetrators of killing of protesters, which in turn has promoted a culture of impunity and emboldened authorities, the military, politicians and their accomplices who continue to commit human rights crimes against protesters.”
“The violent attacks on peaceful protesters in Lekki, Alausa, and other parts of the country suggest the lack of political will by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to respect people’s human rights, including the rights to life, dignity of the human person, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
“The repeated attacks on peaceful protesters suggest the misuse of the military and security agents by the Nigerian authorities and the failure to apply criminal sanctions to suspected perpetrators.”