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82nd Division of Nigerian Army, Enugu, To Court Martial 11 For Offenses Including Murder

82nd Division of Nigerian Army, Enugu, To Court Martial 11 For Offenses Including Murder

 

THE 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, is set to try its officers found to be involved in criminal acts and other offences classified as indiscipline.

This came as the  National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, weekend, said it would not rest on its oars until all the soldiers who  allegedly abducted and raped some women in the Federal Capital Territory under the guise that they were prostitutes, were fished out and punished accordingly.

The 82 Division of the Army said it had concluded plans to swear in members of General Court Martial that would  try the accused officers today.

Serious disciplinary/criminal cases that occurred within the division’s area of responsibility will be tried, according to a statement by the Assistant Director Public Relations of the division, Col. Hamzah Gambo. The cases to be tried include murder and scandalous/ disgraceful conducts.

The statement hinted that there were 11 accused personnel to be tried by the general court martial.

The court martial, according to the statement, is expected to round off its sitting within 90 days.

NHRC begins probe of soldiers over alleged rape

Meanwhile,NHRC has said that it had commenced investigation into several reported cases of alleged human rights abuses involving officials of Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB.

Addressing journalists at the national headquarters of the commission in Abuja, Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Prof. Ben Angwe, noted that though Section 35 of the AEPB Act of 1997, forbids street begging, hawking and prostitution within the FCT, neither soldiers nor any other security agency had the statutory powers to infringe on the fundamental human rights of any Nigerian under the pretence of enforcing an extant law.

According to Angwe, the commission received complaints that aside harassing innocent women on allegation that they seemed like prostitutes, officials of the AEPB usually arrest and confiscate items from hawkers for their personal use, adding that such hawkers were usually forced to bail themselves with huge sums of money.

He stressed that the commission had received several complaints from victims of such alleged misconduct by officials of the board and had since commenced investigation into the allegations.

He said: “The commission which gathered that the matter is already before the Federal Secretariat, Abuja Police Station, however, condemns in its entirety all forms of rights violations and is ready to ensure that the rights of the victims are enforced.”

Angwe who spoke alongside the chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ACHPR, Mrs Dupe Atoki, who is also a member of the NHRC board, said the body had accordingly sent letters to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika and the Commissioner of Police, FCT command, Mr Adenrele Shinaba to promptly investigate the rape allegation and update the commission on any action taken on the subject matter to enable it take further necessary action in line with its mandate.

Addressing journalists at the national headquarters of the commission in Abuja, Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, noted that though section 35 of the AEPB Act of 1997, forbade street begging, hawking and prostitution within the FCT, neither soldiers nor any other security agency had the statutory powers to infringe on the fundamental human right of any Nigerian under the pretence of enforcing an extant law.

According to Prof Angwe, the commission received complaints that aside harassing innocent women on allegation that they seemed like prostitutes, officials of the AEPB usually arrest and confiscate items from hawkers for their own personal use, adding that such hawkers were usually forced to bail themselves with huge sums of money.

He stressed that the commission has received several complaints from victims of such alleged misconduct by the officials of the Board and has since commenced investigation into the allegations.

“The commission which gathered that the matter is already before the federal secretariat Abuja police station however condemns in its entirety all forms of rights violations and is ready to ensure that the rights of the victims are enforced,” he added.

Angwe who spoke alongside the chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Mrs Dupe Atoki, who is also a member of the NHRC board, said the body has accordingly sent letters to both the chief of army staff, Lt.-Gen. Onyeabor Azubuike Ihejirika and the Commissioner of Police FCT command, Mr Adenrele Shinaba to promptly investigate the rape allegation and update the Commission on any action taken on the subject matter to enable it take further necessary action in line with its mandate.

He said the NHRC had monitored the report of the incident as aired by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, on the January 14, 2013, in which it was reported that on the December 20, 21 and the 22, 2012, some women were allegedly abducted by men in Army uniforms in an unidentified black Hilux Van around Wuse 2, Abuja, under the pretence that they were prostitutes and taken to an unknown destination, where they were beaten and raped.

It will be recalled that the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Nigeria, had also called for an urgent probe of the rape allegation.

FIDA, via a statement that was issued by its National President, Hauwa Evelyn Shekarau, said it was worried at the seeming silence, nonchalance and outright complicity of law enforcement agents in addressing the high rate of violence against women, especially rape, assault, sexual harassment as well as defilement of young girls even as these acts are crimes already codified in law books such as the penal and criminal code.

According to Shekarau “the impunity with which women and girls are raped, defiled and violated in this country is completely unacceptable.
”It is quite sad and ironic to see people who are paid from state coffers and charged with the responsibility of protecting citizens and maintaining law and order being the same people that are perpetrating crimes against the same citizens.

A situation where the bodies of women and girls are seen as objects to be acquired willy-nilly by men without their consent leaves much to be desired.

”FIDA Nigeria therefore calls on the leadership of the Nigerian Army to investigate and ensure that the perpetrators of this dastardly act are fished out and made to face the law. No stone should be left unturned until the perpetrators are brought to book and the course of justice is served.

”We wish to emphasize that justice must not only be done, but must be seen to have been done. This should serve as deterrent to others.

The increasing rate of sexual violence in our society further reiterate the need for the National Assembly to speedily pass the Violence against Persons Prohibition Bill that is currently before it,” she added.

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